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spacer.gif   Jacqui Wolk
Posted by : cj on Friday, December 03, 2004 - 03:04 PM
Poetry:  Click On The Author's Name ACADEMIC LICENSE

Have you settled on a sun
you could hold in your arms,
a fierce flash of pride
piercing deep into skin?

Cara majored in angst at the university.
She did all we asked of her.
She did not slip into hiding.
She did not scream into bright light.
She did not shout obscurities.

Earthbound, we could only watch,
settled on ticks and dust mites,
a nest of hiding cockroaches,
the sweaty moisture of a collar.


Do not greet Yan-Wang wearing purple.
Do not feed the elephant head beef.
Do not free Izanami. She likes it here.

What is place after all?
A piece of wood, a string of metal,
one material bound to another?

Heroes live and then they die,
one god is as good as another,
during the storm hail falls

and the similarity between two subsets
is a piece of rope made from hemp
becoming something else Thursday night.


Sometimes the length of skin no longer has texture.
You settle on a bump, a bruise,
one silly hair too near a mole.
This room is neither too dark or too light.
You are floating on a garden you found once
and you go there
the roots of chicaharro, alfrombrilla, and perra breaking through Aztec rafts
anchored to mud and muck,
islands in the middle of a lake ending this story.

Donut Man

You sat in the Mexican bakery
just shy of the morning rush
eating a meat roll and a large orange drink
Donut Man
I saw you
On the Damen bus going to Cook County Hospital
after someone spray-painted you with gang graffiti
after God hollowed out your eyes to black pits
I saw you on my way to work
with wax paper lumps on the backs of your arms
You looked like a spook caught in a 16mm frame smeared with Vaseline
while I went to wrap my legs around the corporate machine
and ride the all day fucker
Why the hell are you up so early?
What do you have to do today worth getting out of bed for?
If I didn't have to
I'd linger in my panties at the kitchen table
and reach for another donut
even on a sunny day
and stick it into plastic mugs of coffee
you Donut Man will
find more papery goods to drag around in bloated Jewel slash Osco bags
Your granny cart discard chatters away along the sidewalk
like some waitress in a downtown restaurant
dropping her silverware
at the same moment a businessman's teeth
chew his lunch
And I'm shafted in the elevator
once again
blown away by all the cruelty around me
But all I choose to do today
is look down at my battered Air Nike's
and go to work

Love letters

The day I wrote a love letter to myself
raving about all of my finest qualities
felt as foreign as
the first time I contorted my parimonious muscles in a yoga class
felt as alien as
when I quit drinking for six months
felt as anxious as
the year I broke it to my mom that, thank you, but
I already had plans for Thanksgiving this year

The day I wrote a love letter to myself
the blank page was more daunting than
the self-review I had to do at work
was more frightening than
honestly applying for a new health insurance policy 2 weeks after begnning therapy again
was more ominous than
any blue exam book I've ever been required to use

I examined
what I was afraid of
Did it mean that I was conceited?
Did it mean that would get conceited?
What if someone saw it?
What if
I wrote it and then
I died or something
and just as it was on the verge of being published posthumously
my parents found it and said,
"No, no, no. That's not her at all. And, as the executors of her estate
(such that it is)
we, being of sound mind and body
(unlike her)
demand that
through our attorney,
you revise it thusly and truthfully before publication."

I did resist the temptation to correspond with myself
as if I was referring me to a prospective employer
or to the last affordable apartment in my gentrified neighborhood
I gambled with random adjectives that
I felt best described my personality
Sparkly! Shining
Comedic! Precocious! Buoyant!
Inquisitive? . . . Mindful . . . and, uh. . .
Much improved?

I looked inside myself
to seek out what charmed the pants off of me
I looked inside myself
to fabricate sexual tension
I looked inside myself
to navigate my own personal landscape
and create seisms
to break through layers of self-effacement
and make chinks to reveal
white, hot love
robin's-egg hope
and daffodil joy
I wanted it to bubble up to the surface
foam and fizz
and illuminate the page
with all the unreuited things
I was always forbidden to say to myself

But the best love letter I could come up with
looked like a permission slip
I found it three months later
in the back of my day planner
dog-eared with forgetfulness
along with a credit card application
a belated birthday card to my grandmother
a public radio pledge form
and a few other things I neglected to sign off on
and send out

variation on Rilke

As impending doom went into remission
I was shown what was left in its place: the little sand grain turning into pearl,
into boulder, into the sun coming up from the east. And energy
bled into anxiety. There was a blown fuse
that arced and knocked me backwards.
This, I realized, was a phenomenon. I became
intensely aware of its resonance through my fascia, colloid, blood.
The in-betweens of my tissues became a conduit, brining a
congnizance of a ringing in my ears that was really there all the time.
Like a tuning fork,
it created a pitch that only I could hear.

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