Poetry: AV12-Poetry

Poetry

A Red Dress, Falling

A red dress, falling: out of love,
her life assumed the vertical;
she plummeted, more hawk than dove,
with wings that went beneath the air.

A red dress, falling, promising
herself it wouldn’t hurt at all:
God only knows, but couldn’t prove
himself; she fell devoid of care.

No shout, no scream, no shutter fell;
we memorised her ending
in the corner of an eye, and wondered why
and why it was that day she chose to die.

There must be easier ways than this, we said,
though nothing simpler,
letting go the fragile thread. But here? Or there?
And when? And then there’s all the choosing what to wear.

A red dress? Falling through the air,
with false immodesty she dove;
it wasn’t that she didn’t care -
she sought the void, devoid of love.

That day dawned nothing, dreamed itself
awake to unexception, then
she chose a red dress (not in vogue)
to keep her date, despite despair,

with destiny, the double-dare
of gravity,

the fall that made the fabric tear–
the woman who became a star.

Faultlines

Beauty is truant
and truth is a runaway;
suddenly signs are
that something’s unravelling.

Moon at midday,
the man’s talking in monotone
not meant for anyone;
no one is listening.

Somebody swept up
the sun spilt in alleyways;
all that was broad,
like an artery, narrowing,

starving the heart
till it hardens. The man’s alone;
moon mood is on him
and summer is shivering.

Nothing’s the same thing
that something was yesterday;
backstreets are everywhere,
none is worth following.

The rains have come early,
he weeps for no reason known,
just something slipped slightly,
altering everything.

Yes, Gale

after Keith Reddin’s “Life During Wartime”

The concept of your body remains— in
my living room at night, sitting on the
arm of my couch telling me how you wish
you’d learned to paint before you died and then
asking me for a quick fuck and then
asking me to write a poem about it.
And I say yes, your life was worth a poem
or play, and yes, you could have been a nurse
or champion swimmer.  Yes, you were alive
lying on the kitchen floor with me,
the champagne trickling through your bloodstream like
the final days slipping into the sea
while you sold real estate for Century
Twenty-One, and yes you’d do it again,
and yes, you would be right to, since now, Gale,
we know that you have your poem and I have
to remember you just the way you were
that night we lay across the kitchen tiles,
your hair splayed beneath you and your fingers
all tracing the floor and me asking for
another world, another life, instead of this.

Cartoons

When I was ten I worried about my British accent,
how I needed a bra, desperately, &
about writing poems about writing poems,
rhyming stare & chair. Flynn was right
about ten-year-olds: that they should stick
to cartoon physics & not worry (why worry?)
about death or falling.
The trouble is there’s trouble:
even ten-year-olds know gravity exists
& they know better than to jump off cliffs.
Good thing twenty-year-olds can leap
so fast & far, as to beat gravity up
& down in all its verticalness,
as to know two-tenths is the same as one-fifth
of two poisons that aren’t supposed to mix—
but twenty-year-olds anyway drink
fast & they drink far. He never mentioned that
double-decaded crowd, but Flynn was
right about the kids cocooned in cartoons,
the ones that know what’s up
Doc & what’s down.
If twenty is this bad, and if
ten was just an accident, how
will thirty pan out? Like Sylvia?
She tried it thrice. Once she got it right.
She liked water & words,
liked making big, furious sounds, but was never much
of a physicist. Maybe she thought
the cartoons were real. Mad women are hysterical.
Nick, here I am in the middle:
between those kids who believe only what they see but dare
not apply it after one broken bone & Sylvia,
dead already, now long ago. How
am I neither of them? Did I never watch
Saturday morning cartoons?

Orange

While touching myself tonight my mind twisted
from sweet lovely thoughts of you & soothing music
suddenly to a daydream of me slicing my wrists,
making candy canes of my pale white arms with
a bright orange box-cutter. A violent
color, orange. What a notion. But so comfortingly odd
feeling that sharp blade, which can quickly cut
through layers & layers of packing tape on
hard cardboard, rip through my flesh, severing
my veins like a mediator: break it up, come
on, break it up, you two. You’re wondering,
now, aren’t you? Did I get off? Well, I assure you, it was
the Neutral Milk Hotel & those melodies—but, oh, I
did breathe the deepest final orange sigh.

The Botanist Lectures, After His Betrayal

Consider the taproots of jimson weed,
the stout stems, leaves with teeth,
sepals cupping the star flower.

Note its corolla of contradiction,
a falconer palming a raptor
in the clothing of a dove.

Often mistaken for morning glory,
nightshade with angel and apple aliases,
also devil’s trumpet, stink weed.

And here is the gardener who rests
between rows of benign fruit,
while seeds squint from pod slits.

The weed is tall as a woman,
with leaves that spindle prick,
pull apples from a sleeve.

Visions of the jimson weed are brief,
false as belladonna, or flowers
that will die in the afternoon.

We Weather Them

The dead have their seasons.
We weather them,
though the winds of them
howl awfully sometimes,

funneling up clouds of  belongings
they think they still need-
an umbrella with broken ribs,
a widowed glove, a haggard coat.

The dead are difficult to forecast.
We can’t reckon or reason with them,
can’t capture their amassing
on satellite photos and weather maps.

We have no gauges or sensors,
no data to justify a watch or warning.
We can only issue advisories
and hope they will be temperate.

We moor the boats, move inland,
indoors, to our interior rooms.
We take all the usual precautions,
but the dead still come

with precipitous entrances,
heat lightning at the screen door
before the downpour, the flooding,
heavy as hailstones,

in the snare of sleet pelleting the glass,
or slowly, snowdrifts in a whiteout,
insidious as black ice,
that first coat.

A Thought Upon Departure from the Body

The current of blood slowing,
the circuit open, off,
vessels tipped, siphoned,
spilled from the cast,
sieve of ribs,
skin livid, fluid
amassing in the back,
the heart billowing,
then sighing itself soft, flaccid,
the bellows of the lungs
expelling themselves lax,
muscles contracted,
pathways snuffed,
at last slackening-
all of it turning to slough-

I thought I would miss
that fierce machinery,
that foundry.

Six Local Poems

1. before man
 
Before man goes to bed man takes off
his pants hangs them on a chair
asks for a wake-up call goes to the lavatory
from hereon bathroom from hereon restroom from hereon toilet
before man goes to bed man takes off
his clothes checks himself in the mirror and goes to bed
with a worry flicker in the center of the eye of a spacecadet
with instructions on how to better land and better communicate
when one lands and goes to bed
 
2. man hangs
 
Man hangs his pants and plans his manhood
hangs his pants on a chair and takes a stance
takes a stance regarding his future poems and brings down a leg
brings down a leg casts a glance in the mirror and makes a movie
makes a movie hangs his pants and plans
takes a stance regarding his future plans and brings down
then raises looks in the mirror and makes a movie
man puts on his pants and handles his reign
so many feet from his crotch to his zipper
till here his debts from here his returns
man wears out his pants slices up his land
east west north south and anywhere
the Sixth Fleet and the Red Fleet may reach
 
3. when man rises
 
When man rises in the morning man puts on
his pants and instantly opens fire upon
his bed his terrace his books
upon the jets of water in hot pursuit of him
a drowsy man rises in the morning
unafraid to put on his pants and open fire
 
 4. man pesters
 
Man returns to his flat and pesters a machine
pesters the typewriter out of season
man pesters a typewriter and delays his sleep
for how many minutes hours years will he remain alert
man alerts his typewriter and pesters his sleep
man returns to his flat and turns on a machine
more or less the right machine
man turns on an alert-machine and delays his sleep
for how many minutes hours years will he remain alert
in this flat in this land and anywhere
the Sixth Fleet and the Red Fleet may reach
 
5. summing up
 
before man
man hangs
when man rises
man pesters
 
 6. a tax-free supplement for diplomatic relations expenditure
 
Two words on the problematic status of erections
against the backdrop of the decline in class warfare
and the hardening positions of the superpowers:
it is clear, for instance, that each visible hardening
is more and more visible vis à vis a softening,
a sizeable softening of the other side which, by the by,
is only rarely soft enough to allow a real hard position
to bloom fully in secure and agreed upon borders
with minimum speech-letting
and God the Lord will take pity on all Jews
and Allah on all Muslims
and the armies of GodtheLordIsraelandGodtheLordAllah
will clear away words and dung
day and night.
This is the framework
voted verified certified
for a peace-strike
to be initiated
when the time comes
right after the war.

In a Sharp, Well-Tailored Suit

Near town a vast
cavern mouth in the
ground had emerged
and I found that it led
to a tavern beneath
Brooklyn where
a smooth ancient jazz
soothed my difficult
mind. It’s where
I first met Lady.
She gently took me
by the collar and
led me to Naples, its
streets like beautiful
stage doors, and to
Strasbourg for stollen,
then an afternoon by
warm coastal ruins
where we finally came
face to face. A brief
blindness and ginger
glare, then it was
over just as quickly. 
I returned the next
day dressed in my
Nehru-fashioned
wedding suit from
years past. But
getting back in was
impossible. The opening
had been filled with
topsoil. A man in
a wool vest stirred
some dust with his
work boot. His face
was like an old cork.
Can you see, Vandita, 
my strange substance?

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