These are real, real emotions, man, and we are on our way downtown. Downtown with our fingers on a lipstick cap inside our jean pocket to suggest a knife. Our hood, our hat is pulled low. We got this worm-lipped grimace on our face. We glide past the bus stop and see him with black, glittering eyes. Waiting at the stop, in khakis and a black raincoat and dark glasses, and he is just asking for it. Something like a fuse sparks in our head. He is pathetic. We are furious- not at him and we know it, but we can taste our own fury sitting like blood in our mouth. Our sweat is murmuring and our hand is a sweet fist- one to pump and kiss the sky. We wonder what it would be like to crush his skull under our blind boot, because our eyes have moved to swallow something small and pebbly from the part of our brain which recalls childhood. And the drama of the everyday never shakes down like this on the sidewalk- not without us slamming into it, not until we make it. And he never even saw us coming. No, he was thinking about divorce as a way out and how his whole life has been a lie and there was no way he could have seen us coming after that. No way, not from miles away.
Monthly Archives: February 2015
Music Bit My Mouth Open
The whining cars up on the hill are missing home. They beg, where is our tomb? The answer shudders underground and in my hands are flowers. And beside me is all my family standing in a Domino row.
If I combine the only witness, slump his tongue right under mine…
Afraid to feel without a thudding chest to get the blood out. And. Tastes like clockwork, works like climate change. How? Press a thumb to my lips, taste the hard-won tip of a bee-stung corn. Size of grapefruit. Lanced on my abdomen.
Come up the riverbank, my seasick carp.
A Lifetime of Milk
Carl stood under the umbrella, looking out across the downtown square. In coveralls reeking of machine oils and sweat, made worse by the rain. On the farm, Carl remembered, nothing was ever made worse by rain.
The old man’s farm. Paved over. A lifetime of milk and red earth-tinged memories. Sprouting tall buildings now, where sweet corn and green pastures once flowered. Where an old cow giving birth kicked the daylights out of his five-year old head. He got to name that one, ol’ Milk Dud, on account of how much his head bled.
And now he was the old man. He couldn’t have told you how it happened, but it did, and the city came up all around them. Lost the farm, hired on at the factory. At least he and Barb had the kids.
A tiny spasm wracked his hand and the umbrella slid out. Carl winced. The arthritis was flaring up, more and more these days. He collapsed to his knees. Why the heck did he come back here? And in his coveralls! He stuck out like a sore thumb. And in fact his thumbs were sore, and the truth was that being here made him feel there wasn’t a thing left worth livin’ for.
-originally publ. on flashfriday.wordpress.com
The Perils of Belief According to the Meek (Tongue-in-Cheek)
Mary wasn’t wild-
there was just man, in Joseph
who sought to prophet
from a timely
Give them a wide birth, let a million stars
go blind in the stable wound
of One Sun, risen and
springing wet and screaming
from the flesh of her hips,
bred with honey and wheat
the shape of her waste
was a virgin, chased
out of veins and into vanity,
bleeding into the heir,
the one and only Hymn…
(a wise man bending to pray)
(a king bending to the scent of prey)
And do some holy theories lend themselves to
Allusions proceed from the altar,
from a Book with No Reservations
and some would have them starting,
altered and ending
in a place
wholly borne of illusion-
born of Creation.
This poem is quite literally intended to be tongue-in-cheek, hence the title, but only in subject matter. It’s chock-full of homonyms/homophones; some are instantly apparent, and others may not be… When thinking about how to feature words that are similar in sound and spelling, but vary in meaning, I inclined naturally towards a biblical/religious theme (Christian scripture, simply because I’m familiar with the bible stories).
Why? As a writer, I am fascinated by the intent and function of each word in context. Equally fascinating is the fact that entire religions are based on the arbitrary interpretation of ancient scriptures. Regardless of one’s faith or lack thereof, most people would grant that the human experience is clotted with disputes over the language of scripture- one only has to open a newspaper to see how ‘inter-’ and even ‘intra-religious’ conflict has led to violence and other systemic social issues.
With regard to homonyms/homophones, I was drawn immediately to their role in misapprehension of language. As in the absence of precise context in scripture, this poem demands that the reader employ their particular context to understand it. After all, I employed mine… I made choices in the spelling of these words, intentionally, to provoke alternate meanings and alternate interpretations.
Finally, the beauty of the choice to proceed with a religious theme, revealed itself as twofold: first, the tone/language of the poem evolved organically to reflect actual scripture; and lastly, this poem (hopefully) accomplishes the goal of provoking disparate reactions in readers. And to accomplish it, according to each person’s spiritual orientation in life- the very thing which tends to figure at the core of who we are, and how we see the world.