12 July 2012

Dream of America

I dream of America and
all those neon nights of
flashing ATMs and off-duty
taxis speeding past us

meanwhile, we seek freedom
from want and fear, to worship
as we please (or not at all)
and to write our own story

amidst those acres of corn and
soybeans stretching as far as
the eye can see, scratching it
out on sidewalks, chalking it

down on the playgrounds, scripting it
down on the sloping driveways as
the sun falls and the fireflies
blink out their morse code

into the inkyblack preceding
silvery dawn and another day


this fabric frayed at the edges,
the binding worn, the
floral plain faded from
washings and dryings
this common comfort folded
and placed next to
the stack of new towels, jewel-bright,
magazine-layout fresh

echos of the sickroom, the
anxious nights waiting for
the fever to break, minutes
turning to hours waiting for a
word, for ordinary hunger
to return, like a lost friend,
familiar, who you happily feed

but, before that, the measuring of
medicine with quavering hands,
squinting at text too-small-almost-
to-read, the temperature-taking and
the wordless prayer, in every breath,
that all will be well

Blue Shirts, Scorched

the woman in the rock changes
in the seasons--now you see her
face in profile, then again she
disappears beyond a curtain

of greenery, shading her from
the sun, giving refuge to animals
of all ilk, glittering eyes watching
all as they come and go, eating

and being eaten, hatching out their
young, feeding the same, evading
those predators who would consume

war on her and the pike comes out.
immovable stone, stolid, unblastable
rock, reaching down to the molten
centre of the earth, giving her
that heat to warm others, to
warn others

the blue shirts, scorched, top
the bonfire, flames riddling
the rubbish while the printed
word looks on in silent paragraphs

and the seasons change, and
she does too, her aspect changing
with the coursing of the sun

Continental Drift

this continental drift, as
inevitable as ice cream on
a summer day, the
creamy beads dripping down
their fingers

at the very last, the door
slammed an exclamation
mark to end the sentence
counted out in years, the
papery-thick greeting cards
standing at attention
on the mantel

the spines of his books
still unbroken, smooth to
the touch, some others, better read,
titles obscured to the eye

she counts them, one, two, three,
then loses track and must
start again, anew

Thick With Superstition

pleatings of color upon color,
glossy-thick, along with fishwrappers
printed black/white/black/white/

[while the ribbon, red, around
her wrist, daily wards off
the evil eye, and she, thick with
superstition, goes on]

local rows, in white and black
are more to her interest, the gate
hanging, broken-hinged,
the fence unmended, some squabble
over the marking of an acre

through which she walks at night,
trip, trippingly, the stars her only
light until she finds another mouth and
he, hers

let anyone talk across her?  Oh no. She will be
speaking, speaking, speaking
long after they are all weighed down
by that stony grey soil

Land of the Badger Warren

in the land of the badger warren, Sunday-
that day of rest- is now spent in the
shopping centre

while he flies home to dollybird and
the four chickens

her sleep shattered (a pleasant dream, too) by
a telephone call from Honduras

now, her business her own,
twisting the sheets round, round,
round, then packing them flat, the
words already written upon them

and Big Ned still stinks of
silage after all these years, the
moldy odor of it never quite
gone from his boots

No post on Sunday (or shall we
call it the mail?) the circulars
slip, slipping from her fingers to
the rubbish bin below

Spring-Operated Woman

see her there?
she's the original (never-to-be-duplicated)
spring-operated woman, the
copper coils tight-wound to give her
that extra, unexpected bounce to
her step as she clears the rough-hewn stumps,
puddles of muck, and the occasional corpse
blocking her way

well-schooled in the science of
beauty, too, aided by white-coated
armies and their squat jars,
dab, dab, daub, lest
you become a drab, lipstick feathering
out, a peacock's tail (quick! avert
the eyes and seek out younger, more

wind her up and see her go-go-go,
hand-lettered sign (SPECIAL COFFEE 50 CENTS) brings
her to the shop of the darkeyed man
pouring silver, like a river, into her
outstretched hand

Cutting Romaine Into Ribbons

no time like the present, she thinks,
cutting romaine into green ribbons
clinging to the white inside of the
bowl, damp from being just-washed,

her hands perpetually wet, it seems,
and her face to the fire, stoking
those coals to produce plate after
plate proffered at table, the

jumble of silver made a pretty sound,
like bells it was, as she dropped
them on the cloth, the blade of
the knife mirroring back two eyes

two hands, two ears, a mouth,
close-pared fingernails that peel
the protective seal from the ketchup,
screwing the lid back on tight, tight

the bell sound brings her back, back to
the black night under the stars, the
vigil over, walking home the long
way, the taste of the open air upon her tongue