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spacer.gif   John Dickson
Posted by : cj on Friday, December 03, 2004 - 09:12 AM
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Poetry:  Click On The Author's Name THIS MORNING

I am shaving.
And the sallow-faced man next door is shaving. And the man whose life will be changed
when a girl talks to him in the subway,
and the president of Revco Steel—
they are shaving.

And the man who will capsize in a boat today
and breathe in the pure water of the lake
and gaze sightless up at the shimmering sun—
he is shaving.

And the man who will commit murder today destroying the only love he has ever known, though as yet his anger is still asleep,
and the man who will return from a day hunched at his desk,
his hair falling over his ledgers,
and the man who before sunset
will slice his wrists over the sink—
they are all shaving—
over the upper lip,
under the sloping jaw,
lathered face and razor in the mirror
but no revelations there...
no hint today.

We will walk out to the cool morning
where newspapers whirl in the wind,
out to the street that holds the buildings together.
But the premonitions are not quite strong enough— they rise to the pure darkness of space
or lie beneath the slow wheels of a train.
Dark fears are still asleep in the blood as we walk our ways
and there is no unusual animal behavior
to warn of the earthquakes to come.


DEJA VU

There was snow falling then
just as there is now
filtering secretly down from the dark
silencing the traffic
covering the ground and the trees
and the roots of the inarticulate houses.
Lights were glowing from the fat windows and someone was calling a lost dog.

And this room—
except for the smell of old books
and dying ideas
there is something familiar about this room.
There was the scent of violets then
and fragments of song.
And there should be sunlight on the carpet,
a girl with brown hair
and fire in the cat's eye
but all that is somehow missing.

Time has been feeding on its young.
There are not even ghosts remaining
of those who lived in this house before.

This will be the last snow of spring
I know that the morning sky will be clear— geese
cranking north for summer
and trees reaching puberty.
Then the echoes of this street
will be stronger in me than ever.
Mornings were the times I knew it best.


POETRY READING

They come looking for the bluebird
for keys to cages they have
locked themselves into
sit defiant...sit expectant...
sit pleading "Oil me! Oil me!"
like malfunctioning machines
their souls in little bottles
hanging at their necks
or dangling from their wrists.

They see her standing before them
like a slave girl on the auction block—
her smooth iambics of shoulder and throat her sculptured verses of breast and waist her rhythmic lines of hip and thigh—
and wait for poetry.

Then her voice in the half-light
as startling as a dove at the open window.
They hear salvaged scraps of her living
wedges of sunlight
the sparkle of streets
glissando of an afternoon
learn of the adhesion of friendship
of hands touching and not touching
of eagles and field mice
cormorants and fish
hear the scent and roar and wash of sea
hear time feeding on its young.

And then, when she has finished and leaves, some fly along the street beside her
some ride behind her on horseback
in bright colored capes like Castillian nobles
and some remain in their folding chairs
counting their heads
or staring at spots on the oak floor.


POEMECTOMY

The trouble was they left her too much alone, feeding on books and dreaming of love
and watching willow tree shadows
sway across the polluted river.

Instead of running about and laughing
and talking of nothing with the other girls,
she grew wistful and wan and dangerously thin
and after hours of pondering such things as frost on a window
or the frail filament fingers of an old man on a bus, she would look weaker than ever
and complain of a terrible pain in her chest.

Until late one night when they rushed her to the
hospital and worked over her for hours in Emergency, removing a huge, tumorous verse
so horrible that even the nurses grew sick when they saw it. For days afterwards
she was draining words where the stitches were
and then only a few letters now and then until finally the wound was completely healed.

But there's still a large scar where they made the incision
and even now when she sees things
like a bird on a twig
or the shadow of leaves on the sand
or a butterfly wing washed up on the shore,
the scar turns pink or a livid red
and you almost wonder
if they succeeded in getting out all the infection.


IMMORTALITY

Five times a day
Nate Feldman
ooh, ahh,
massaged his piles
on a
round brass post
at the
Grain Exchange.
When he died,
seven brass posts
were dulled and corroded,
but Nate's brass post,
ooh, ahh,
shone as bright
as the
moon.


FAME

Of the twenty thousand leaves of the oak tree about twelve thousand were burned,
six thousand rotten on the ground,
two thousand disappeared in the river.
and one was pressed in a book,
pasted on paper,
hung on the kindergarten wall,
and considered by everyone to be
quite a marvelous thing.

 
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