04 December 2010

November Poem-a-Day Challenge Chapbook Submission........

Page-Turner (Can One Trust the Narrator?)

leather spined, she turns the
first, blank page, to see the
frontispiece, in short inky strokes,
obscured, so slightly, by paper tissue-
thin, the uppermost corner
wrinkled as if the last reader
closed the volume with an
impatient (or hasty) hand

endpapers, printed in peacock
colors, the whorls of red, blue,
green merging into a whole as
rich as plum pudding

turning the page, forgoing the
inevitable dedication (not to
her, certainly) musing over the
cryptic capitals punctuated by
oh-so-definite periods

chapter one was romance, the
treacle thick on the fingers,
licked off, delicious it was, so
sweet

no eye for foreshadowing, the
page missing from the index
vexing her, and can one,
really, ever trust the
narrator?

no. and so--she turns the
cream colored sheets, looking for
some legend she will understand,
oil black, that
she can trace over. but. no.

placed back upon the shelf at the
last and left to the whims
of the removal men


Seven-OH-Five

seven o five and OH the
minutes tick down, and dear,
this stocking is already laddered (where IS
another?) and there the
kettle blowing her top, steaming
away as if she would power the
whole house and
dammit where are my keys, so
sure I left them on the hook
by the door,
tick, tick, tick echoing back,
the click, click, click of
hasty shoes upon the boards (too
late, now, to worry about the
noise) snatching at purse-
strap then
dash-dark-down the stairwell,
ready as she'll ever be
(resolving, always, to be better:
that graceful, unhurried woman espied from afar)


Fleetwood Bridge

the roadmap streaks blue and red,
twisted, knotty, the veins I trace
with my finger....
were there a global positioning system
that could find you, it would be on
a bridge over Fleetwood's tracks,
casting your eyes over, casting your
bread upon, the river, where we
saw an opossum, swollen-bellied,
amble down to take a
drink, silvery under the electric
light

later,
squinting, so, at the
green, gold, red, heavy-lidded through
years of yellow paint, one coat upon
another, you gripping the steering wheel
as we plot the best route,
from aye to bee to cee and finally,
oh so finally, to zed. and home. and rest.

but now it is as black as a North Korean night on
Google maps, the last candle snuffed
out and no electric light to be seen

brights on the bridge, at night,
a necklace, sparkling, but
hot to the touch, they warned one
off, the wires, too, woven azure, crimson,
grass-green, jewel colored, touch me, touch me,
if you dare


Butterfly, Loch Avon

in four-color plates, this
special featurette of our
magazine:

ten steps to a new
you:
curving script to detail
this cunning
stunt
to be pulled off (in a
most determined fashion)
between the marshalled
efforts of: dressmaker,
manicurist, and
the like, not
forgetting, of course,
some themes of self-
improvement (so dear to
our editorial hearts) whether
whisking eggs or
curling our eyelashes

and here she is, presented on
the penultimate page, our paragon,
our gold and ivory baby, our butterfly, her
teeth tearing into peachflesh,
ready, finally, for her close-up



Rooftop Dining

just tell me when you
can get the money; that's all
I want to know
(ses navy-blue jumper, khaki trousers,
neat black shoes and the cellular
clapped to his ear, so)

soles pressing upwards, to inspect
the rooftop, after a shout through
the door

whilst the men of leisure
enjoy their breakfasts, their
letters of agreement and
memorandums of understanding
signed long since

as Sal smiles and says "them
cigarettes get heavy to lift"

and she agrees to another cup
of coffee (black), the toast
scraped over with butter gone cold



Waiting for the Dough to Rise

there's time, yet, while the
bread-dough rises, to stop
and speak, your words
metrical in their efficiency...
oh, that I could blur
their clipped edges with
my fingertips,

no shame in slowing that
engine down to a low
roar, our words reappearing in
the air, held aloft as
dandelion spores, there
for us to savor their
meaning during this

drift and pull along
suburban sidewalks brisk
with activity, as the
dough doubles, only to
be punched down for kneading,
time yet, whilst it bakes,
to have some talk of this
or that

but no, and so,
a floured hand is grasped goodbye


Artifacts

what need have we
of another love-poem?
they grace the fluorescent
check-out aisles, in stacks,
next to minty chewing gum,

pricked onto fine linen decorative accents,
ubiquitous as chain-hotel
wallpaper flocked in blue
(a neutral blue)
to soothe the tired eyes of men

still, love comes in at
the eyes, so who am I
to argue? When all is
said and done, some
talk of thee and thou

who is the wiser as the
sun rises, with the gas
still to be paid and
dinner made

the heart still sinks, an
elevator gone awry, when
thought of love-loss in quietude strikes
like a fillet knife to the throat, the
garotting wire shiny taut, so

love letters, dusty, in the
drawer, a footnote (or two),
some ancient, ardent, artifacts fit only
for museum shelves, flowers
pressed flat as a pancake

between printed pages speaking
of love, unspeaking, that
vast unraveling of sense
and sensibility



Canvas

blame the way the sun
crept in at the window, boiling
gold, covering the canvas, the
pane, from top to bottom

too soon, too bright for the
eyes still longing for sleep,
the hands fumbling for
coffee, the feet stumbling

into shoes, this lassitude
(and nothing else)
making her tongue wordless



Walls

lay your head on my shoulder, forget
what they say (meaning and masking matters
not one whit as the sun rises, sets, the
shifting face of the moon will smile down
on us, seeing, as she does, similar spirits, pale
dead rocks that, nonetheless, burn bright, are
changeable, blotted by dark patches, like
moss on the wall, built up, stone by stone,
to make a whole from parts once scattered
far and wide)

no need for the words of others, mine,
as we build our walls water-tight, thick-
mortared, to keep out such as would harm us



Three Roads Converge

three roads converge, the
triple-faced masks stare
down (gas, food, lodging) and she, her hounds
to heel, holds a torch aloft,
small moon of light suspended
to illuminate three roads, torn
over by the weather, ragged
furrows of asphalt forgotten
by the surveyor

which way, then, to turn?
the buzz and hum of electric
lights attract a chorus of
insects, singing....so far you
have come....so far yet
to go



Lost and Found Again

moving from lost to found all she
needed were the right co-ordinates,
internal gps did the rest--
sorting through all the noise, the
murmuring meant to distract, the
dripping tap diverting thought (what
was that, then, I wanted?) as
she stands, in stocking feet, on the
threshhold of the bedroom, framed there,
held, for a moment, as if in a
memory box (this scrap of blanket, blue, this
carbon copy of a bill of lading, yellow, the
rough brown of paper, wrinkled deeply, that once
wrapped flowers)

and has she found some shade of
self again? retrieved, like
a blue wool balaclava from the
bottom of the box: found (amongst all
the clobber of chilren's things, some
marked with names, more
without, the scarves twisting
into accidental knots)
....

landmarks on the map are
not to scale - legends for schools,
public parks, houses of worship,
all in primary colors, the filiments of
railway lines snaking, sinuous,
off the four corners of the page
....

so lost in thought, coming to the
findings, finally, at the bottom of
a jewellery box, broken glimmerings of
metal, found after all these
years, the necklace, too, of green
stones she thought lost, how he played
with the clasp that final night
....

flotsam, jetsam, the effluvia of
all our days lost, found, lost
again, pendulum moving back and
forth, the tick-tock of sun/moon
evermore

Where Did the Time Go?
she asks and sighs to see
the hands on the face moving
forward (too fast, always) as she pulls
her hands over hers and turns
back to the packing,
hands already gloved with a fine grey
dust, packing the books first,
then the winter clothing, last
the teakettle and
kitchen implements

pennies, warmed in our hands,
burnt holes through the thick
garden of ice on the windowpane, that
tapestry of cool, so we could
see the drifts new-pillowing
the hills, deadening sound

lovely in his bones, throwing off
his coat, with a shrug, with a
smile
stay awhile
but no
he goes

pages, crumbling, of Time and
Tide, arriving in a pale
envelope, hand-lettered, the
stamps uncancelled

added to the last-minute
box, the grocery circular too,
that-which-might-be-needed

a final sweeping of the
floor, then gone, wondering, indeed,
where the time went




Tell Me Why He Loves Her So

tell me why, again, you paint
those you do and how you
choose the colors and the

brushes, too, to stroke the
tempera onto the smoothed wood,
until she stares at me so,

(pigment-powder-to-paint to make a saint)

boldly, as if to say, I, not you,
own his eyes, I am his
delight from morning until noon, I

glow in the sun, resplendent,
unspeaking, every attention paid to
my lips, cheeks, hair, eyes, the

wrinkling of my collar, the top-
most button forgotten in his haste
(and tell me why he loves her so)



W(hole)

the hole that is the whole of him
(so it seems, sometimes) with his
dear volubility, discoursing away
faster than the birds in the bush

and herself only half-awake at eight and
longing for some--liquid stimulant--
to rouse her to awaked-ness

straining his words through her hands
she places several (snap!) in her purse,
some, twinned like the pepper and
salt on her countertop (click-clack), still
others atop her bathroom looking-glass,
and a stack in the milk-white breadbox, fresh
when she needs them most

the hole filled with the whole
of him, hands, mouth, stomach....
his words so freely given,
so greedily received


Quilt

between quilt and fitted sheet is
the best space

before the yolk of the sun
has broken from the shell

of the sky. dark, yes, quiet,
no--the radio hums thickly,

male, male, with a touch of
female to tell the traffic

....

lazy hand slaps it quiet, for
a space

until a cry, the final alarm,
brings soles to carpet and then

on and on through all the day,
tangled-thick, trying



Bad Animal

teeth bared to tear
another
ivory-sharp-poison-
tipped,
man--is a
bad animal indeed

burrowing into the
gloom and shade
best suited to
such deeds as he
relishes




Stairwells

down the stairwell again
and out the door, bang
with a slap upon the
sidewalk, the school run

then the bank (open at eight),
the post office, grocery (pepper,
milk, bread, bones for soup),
drugstore for baby medicine to

lower a fever, bandages for a skinned
knee, the stationers for several
cards, the cherries covered in
chocolate

on the run to beat the bus,
collect the mail, call the social
worker, laundry then, and dinner and
done


Garland

Yes, in as many words as that,
the forms, filled in triplicate,
tucked neatly away. Where? You

do not need to know--perhaps in
the dead files, the contracts cancelled
by those who cannot fly

and she recalls the file cabinets,
row upon row, their metallic ranks, some sticking, some
so loose they would bruise your

shin and catch upon your stockings, the
fine dust from the carbons coats her
hands, the telex shudders as the

yellow tape, now perforated, chugs,
chugs the message through to
Budapest, behind the wall, received

on the other end as she
and the other (so junior) assistants
re-apply blood lipsticks in a nineteen-thirties
washroom, heavy-mirrored, honey-gold color of
the furnishings outside so warm as to

suffocate as the Borden woman
swings down the hall, her bronzed
offspring (late of some Grecian islands) performing
oh-so-perfunctory filing

and tuneless whistling fills the air,
and there's a job, he says, for you
in California, whenever you want it



Threshold

next steps are in stone,
grey, sweating cold, as if
in a fever

who laid them here
with careful hands? She
does not know as

she steps heavily over
the threshold in her
dreams, lies long on a

bed, the mid-morning sun
pale, like weak tea, hardly
making an effort and

sleep comes, finally as
the chorus of sparrows
quits, finally, and

as if in complete agreement with each other
lift off and fly,
birdwings blanketing the sky



The Triune Brain

who can tell the lessons learned
(or unlearned) in the lizard-like

depths of the mind, preconscious,
vertebrate, crawling from the

muddy water to scratch upon stones,
flame fires on meat, react to

pheromones, wind-carried through
the ferns, that triune brain reads,

tint-coded on the four-color
plate inserted (and at such

a cost) these lessons learned

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