Lenore Baeli Wang

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Join Princeton Rep Company/Princeton Rep Shakespeare Festival today from 2-4 pm in Palmer Square for Shakespeare in the Square Shakespear-e-thon! Here are two more variations on Sonnet XXI.

Poet’s Antidote

When love-drenched poets sprout their loving thoughts,
Pencil or keyboard run they to abuse,
Fingers do the walking on papers bought,
What if a silent language they should choose?
What if the world forbade them to use words,
Back to their lovers they were sent again,
Yakking poets to cotton sheets in herds,
Their tongues and fingers their new-fangled pens?
Of verbal power stripped down to the buff,
No flatteries exchanged in tangled sheets,
But looks and breaths and tender touches, rough,
Love poet’s mouth I’d stop with swollen teats.
I wonder then how romance would upend,
And loving deepen, all its sham to mend.

Teaching the Embers to Burn Bright

If I compared the springtime with your breath,
Or leafy buds that push through solid wood
With life with which you fill me killing death,
Or deep-thrust bliss to springs of womanhood
You cause to flow, you craggy, rough-hewn moon
Who whips up wicked storms on creamy shores,
And with my heart’s spring breeze draws a monsoon,
Tear flying off their hinges my heart’s doors,
If spring rain ran upon me like your touch
That sears my skin with flame on liquored sweets,
Then spring I’d cheat of over-, under-much,
She’d burn out like an ember in our sheets.
A boyish constellation clenching fists,
You stop me with your Herculean kiss.

(Poems read by Victoria Liberatori, artistic director of the Princeton Rep Company)


Lenore Baeli Wang is widely published in literary journals and anthologies, including Calyx, The Paterson Literary Review, Without Halos, Sinister Wisdom, California Quarterly, Princeton Arts Review, Gathering of Tribes, and Confluence. She has written several plays, including, “Phebe and Rosalind”, “Gay Elizabethans and Dante in Central Park” and “And Then Like Ophelia” which were directed by Victoria Liberatori, artistic director of the Princeton Rep Company. “And Then Like Ophelia” was performed at the Actors Movement Studio’s Garment District PlayFest and “Gay Elizabethans” at Dixon Place, both in New York City. Her poetry collection, Born in the Year of the Pink Sink, was published by Malafemmina Press. She was awarded a 1998 NJSCA Grant and a 1999 Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Grant.
[Pictured above is Lenore Baeli Wang and her son, Ezra.]

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Published in: on April 22, 2007 at 12:18 pm  Comments (1)  

Shakespeare in the Square

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The PPL Poetry Podcasting Blog presents Sonnet XXI and a variation by Elizabeth Socolow in honor of tomorrow’s annual Princeton Rep Company/Princeton Rep Shakespeare Festival Shakespear-E-thon

Sonnet XXI

So is it not with me as with that Muse ,
Stirr’d by a painted beauty to his verse,
Who heaven itself for ornament doth use
And every fair with his fair doth rehearse,
Making a couplement of proud compare’
With sun and moon, with earth and sea’s rich gems,
With April’s first-born flowers, and all things rare,
That heaven’s air in this huge rondure hems.
O! let me, true in love, but truly write,
And then believe me, my love is as fair 
As any mother’s child, though not so bright
As those gold candles fix’d in heaven’s air:
Let them say more that like of hearsay well;
I will not praise that purpose not to sell.


 Queer

She tells me I am,
says with a story like mine
leaving me alone like this,
there is no other name for it,
and she’d rather be queer in her way, with someone,
than like me, without, even if my orientation is
the more common one.
If you’re that different in what happened to you,
you’re queer like the rest of us
, she asserts,
and I think but don’t say, just then,
if I am, everyone is, since eveyone has a story that’s different,
depending on the angle of hindsight.

I keep thinking of the rear view mirrors on my car
every time anyone talks of orientation,
the fine tuning needed to get the angle right,
how looking back has everything to do with it–
orientation, and that there’s no way of knowing
where they come from–
all the cars, or it–
even though we scan backwards
to see how we have to move ahead.

And if we all are, the only thing about it
is in the negotiation at the front end,
the chaste kiss, the don’t touch me any other way,
the sidling away and gliding toward,
the close but no cigar of desire,
the history of intimacy, only there,
which is always particular as a sunset,
no two ever the same, all astonishing,
that we mustn’t make assumptions,
have to find out what is wanted,
and what must be closed off.

Elizabeth Socolow, twice the winner of a New Jersey State Council for the Arts grant, is the author of two published volumes of poetry, Laughing at Gravity: Conversations with Isaac Newton (Beacon 1988) and Between Silence and Praise (Ragged Sky Press 2006). She has taught literature and poetry at high schools and colleges in the Detroit area and in New Jersey, and currently gives courses for Senior Citizens with the Evergreen Forum at the Suzanne Patterson Center in Princeton. Queer was  published in Sensations Magazine Issue 60, 2006 “Retro” {ISSN1053-9115}

Published in: on April 21, 2007 at 10:38 am  Comments (2)  

Lois Marie Harrod

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His Mouth

Those last six days
even the smile disappeared
and his voice became the sink hole
I had been pushed back from as a child,
a weak spot where the earth gave way.

But the mouth did not give way.

It stretched itself
into the outline of a rotting pear,
a slack rubber band,
as if he were holding the left
side open for a last word
while the right lay too feeble to listen.

And all the while I could hear his voice
pleading from the speechless pulpit
cannot you wait with me one hour.

Of course, that too was understated
as his life had been. A man can live
without praise, and now he was
living without water. Three, four,
five, six days his Gethsemane continued,
dying as he had dictated
without intervention.

Six days with his breath
so soiled my sister and I
held wet towels to our faces
when our mother was not watching.

I understood then how those
who died without odor
could be considered saints,
bodies incorruptible,
but not how my mother
could say she smelled
nothing at all.
This Is a Story You Already Know

This is the story of the high school student,
who drove from Pennsylvania to Vermont,
and the story of the loud fat girl
who worked with him at Burger King,
the one who said, how like him,
not to shoot himself and spoil his pretty face
,
and the story of her skinny friend

who agreed, yea, handsome son of a bitch,
combing his hair in the french fries
,
and the story of his mother
who drove the school bus
and had to watch the blue-eyed boys
alive and laughing at every stop
and this is the story of one of them

who also hooked up a tube to the exhaust
of his father’s car and sat there a long time
thinking, but did not turn on the engine,
and this is the story of his coach who thought
the one who died was still a pain in the ass
and said so at the funeral, and the story
of the History teacher who wished

he had waited for the lilacs
as if beauty ever had any power to save,
and this is the story of the girl
who believed if she had not blown him off
that last time when he called her from Rutland,
he might still be living, and the story
of his friends who said she did kill him,

the story of how sometimes
she got drunk and wanted to kill herself
and her new boyfriend said, no, no,
nothing could have stopped him
, but she couldn’t believe,
and this is the story of the last words
a hundred people heard him say,
the kid he bought dope from, stuck, man, and the boss

who had finally fired him, up yours,
and the cafeteria lady, three meatballs please,
father, son and holy ghost,
and his next door neighbor,
hi-ya Mrs. Erlington,
sexy dress you have on today,
he was always flirting,that one
,

and this is the story
of his sister who cried in her bedroom,
the girl who wouldn’t wash the shirts
she had taken from his closet
and had worn as her own that week between
the day he fought with his father and left
and the day the telephone began to ring.

Lois Marie Harrod’s chapbook Put Your Sorry Side Out was published by Concrete Wolf in 2005, and she won a 2003 fellowship, her third, from the New Jersey Council on the Arts for her poetry. Her sixth book of poetry Spelling the World Backward (2000) was published by Palanquin Press, University of South Carolina Aiken, which also published her chapbook This Is a Story You Already Know (l999) and her book Part of the Deeper Sea (l997). Her poems have appeared in many journals, among them American Poetry Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Southern Poetry Review, American Pen, Prairie Schooner, The Literary Review, Zone 3, and Green Mountains Review. Her earlier publications include the books Every Twinge a Verdict (Belle Mead Press, l987), Crazy Alice (Belle Mead Press, l991) and a chapbook Green Snake Riding (New Spirit Press, l994).

Published in: on April 20, 2007 at 10:04 am  Comments (1)  

Jill Stein

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Fourteen Year Old Daughter in the Storm

The daughter is eating green powder,
a confection the color of Kryptonite or antifreeze.
Outside the air is also green.
The rain and birdcalls wrap around us.

This could be the story:
A mother and daughter together,
safe from the storm,
the mother offering a warm lunch of soup-
the two of them at the kitchen table.
Instead, the daughter grins with her green fingers,
Delicious she says.
Go away.
She can subsist on sugar and
conversations with her friends.

The willow at the far end of the lawn
waves its wild mane behind the glass.
I am tiny on my bed,
awash in newspapers and coffee cups,
a woman with time to putter.

My daughter is floating
beneath the archway now
on a small raft.
The sky opens out behind her.
She is perfectly at home within these waters.
The world welcomes her
the way it does beautiful young girls-
She has received an exclusive invitation.
She does not look back.

Mercury

The day I bit the thermometer in half
just to feel the tiny tube
go snap between my teeth,
everyone got agitated.
Spit! Spit!
They shouted and I spat
on the green rug with the long yarn
I used to pull and braid,
beside the fish tank
where the neons darted back and forth
in furious commute,
and the angel fish blanched
when I knocked on the glass.

I summoned all my spit
inspired by the thrill of the command-
Spit Spit
I spat for joy and for solidarity
with all those rooting for me,
Champion of Spitters
till at last they seemed satisfied
and my mother retired me
with a slice of bread, a cup of milk,
into the quiet of  whiteness.
 

Late Night Conversation With My Daughter In College

My daughter and I are talking late at night.
She tells me that
ideas keep spilling out of her head,
like  how  meat looks and feels weird,
especially under plastic.     
Wouldn’t a sofa that has the texture of meat
be a fascinating art object?
And wouldn’t it be funny
if the subway could tear through the sidewalk
and devour the city? And I say
she’s been awake studying  too long
but she really wants me to appreciate all these ideas and
she was afraid I wouldn’t
and now its happening just the way she feared
and she starts to cry.
So I say well, have you ever thought
if we really could forget all these trappings
and just notice that we are here somehow here
with no instruction, no explanation,
springing from, as far as we know,    
total nothingness
wouldn’t we all be walking around shouting
What the hell? What the hell?
looking at each other in complete astonishment
until we got exhausted and bored
and began to move on
to the next thing?
And she stops crying and says
Exactly.


Jill Stein is a psychotherapist and mother of two children. Her  work has been in Poetry Northwest, US 1 Worksheets, West Branch, MacGuffin,  and Pearl, among other journals.  She has  received three NJ State Council on the Arts poetry grants, and is a long time member of US 1 Poets.

Published in: on April 19, 2007 at 12:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Sophia Latorre-Zengierski

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Thunder on Christmas Day 1940

“Natála!”
A six-year-old voice called out to me.
She pulled at my linen blouse.
Patting her head, I said, “It will be alright.”
The crashing noise: firing, bombing, firing.
I grabbed her arm and held it so very tightly.
The building was shaking,
Coming lose from its foundation,
With the constant thundering outside.
I could feel her trembling just I had
When the Germans came for us.
I squeezed her hand.
It was my hand,
Held taut by my mother.
I pulled on her dress sleeve.
She held my head close to her chest
And stroked my fine golden hair and whispered,
“Natála, it will be alright.”

Edinburgh Rumour

I walked the cold river streets
With the castle above me;
Everyone knows it can be seen
From anywhere in the city.
I could hear the knocking of my shoe soles
Against the stone streets.
But there were also footsteps in the distance
That were not my own. I could hear them.
The stories, the rumours, the voices.
They told me things. I listened. Can you hear them?
How the Royal Mile was not blessed with royal blood.
How the modern parliament building should not have been erected
Surrounded by the old, worn, tired, dirty buildings of days gone by.
How people, diseased and desolate, strived for a pound
In the famous sewers beneath the city. You could taste the air, thick with blood and terror.
How the princes did not live on Princes’ Street. Their silken robes never matched
That of the street. How Sybil, on the corner, never saw her work
On display at the gallery in London.
Dorian still goes up to her attic to stare and remember.
We almost had prodigy. Too bad the sewer stench
Snaked through the streets. We too can have disease devour our artists.
I don’t think I can say the rest. They won’t. Will you ask them?
Soon the castle passes,
Engulfed by the quintessential heavy fog.
And too the voices start to fade. Will you ask them to come back?
All that remains is the hard sound of
My heel against the ground.
Stories will only remain in my memory
Forever for me to tell
As I walk the cold river streets.

Mother’s Touch

Talking. Just talking.
We had spoken several times before,
This was a favour.
Still, I hardly knew her.
She had corrected me before.
I had questioned her before.
And we exchanged smiles.
There had been nothing else.
Yet as I spoke,
She leaned in to wipe my dirty brow
With the gentle tips of her fingers.
All I could muster was “Sorry.”
But it was warm, full of care,
A stroke only a mother could give.
Just an acquaintance
Yet such a simple stroke,
A mother’s caress,
Seemed to bind us as friends forever…


A Princeton native, Sophia Latorre-Zengierski is a junior at West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South, where is she a senior staff writer on the school’s newspaper, The Pirate’s Eye. Since the ninth grade, she has actively participated in student poetry competitions and has had poems published in student anthologies including Creative Communications’ A Celebration of Young Poets and Villa Victoria Academy’s Inscape. Her article An Evening with Harry, Carrie and Garp was published on harrypotterfanzone.com in August 2006. She has also written a short story, Lilac and Gold for a charity organization called A Leg to Stand On. As a language enthusiast, she writes in both English and French.

Published in: on April 18, 2007 at 7:50 am  Comments (9)  

John Anagbo

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http://www.archive.org/download/JohnAnagbo_AloneInTheDark/JohnAngabo.mp3

Alone in the Dark
      
Alone in the dark the smell of iron binds me
Alone in the dark I am submerged in human waste
Alone in the dark naked black bodies rock on the ocean
Alone in the dark the Puritans violated the women
Alone in the dark my history was darkness
Alone in the dark there was no one to turn the lights on
Alone in the dark I die
Alone in the dark my soul lives to see the rays of the golden ball of fire rise
Alone in the dark I sing about tomorrow
 

NUMBER 37

On my way to the Commons
I met a stranger whose silence perplexed me
My feet wobbled and my knees caved in; I walked on.
That night, the visible darkness mocked the moonlit night
I went to the cliff’s edge and peered down
The rest of them stood still, breathless…
They waited while I flirted with the music of death
My wings were clipped, my feet tied, and tired
Muted echoes surrounded me in the box into which I descended
Back again I went to the cliff’s edge
I wanted to be happy, to be free, to spin on the clouds
to commune with the stars, to feel the nothingness of escaping reality
I wanted to defeat deep blue
The game ended.  I stood still in a trance, still at the edge of the cliff
I slipped.  There was total silence
My brain froze; my feet went cold and numb
I tried to feel the bottom but there was no bottom
Darkness fell.  There were no candles, only flowers blowing in the breeze.
NUMBER 37 remains a cold black spot.

John Anagbo is a Supervisor/Teacher of English at Montgomery High School
in Skillman, NJ. He also works as a Content Instruction Specialist in
English for the Program in Teacher Preparation at Princeton University.

Published in: on April 17, 2007 at 12:07 pm  Comments (1)  

Nancy Scott

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Summer

An elderly woman
sits alone on a bench at the bus stop,
waiting for something, maybe the 609,
maybe her dead husband.
We all wait for the sun.

Incessant rain has sent small stones
and dirt clods tumbling down
the embankment in my backyard.
I can feel my house inch
closer to extinction.

Last summer, people complained
about drought, stunted corn,
impassable spots in the river.
Dry needles flared across acres.
We longed to hear rain beating on the roof.

Everywhere there is excess.
No hope to change the progress of the wind.
It will blow away the clouds or won’t.
I am stitching squares
for my granddaughter’s quilt.

Wedding in Fargo, 1960

I was one of six bridesmaids
in a canary cap-sleeved dress
and dyed-to-match satin pumps
which I left behind
on the way out of town
during a freak summer blizzard.

The bride, a petite Swedish blonde,
my roommate from college, who’d said,
I’ve come East to study Ibsen,
translated – I’m at Chicago to find a husband.

We’d shared an apartment on Hyde Park Blvd.
Dorothy discarded two guys named Ted,
one with six toes, the other a Texas preacher,
hooked up with Tom, a wired artist,
after he’d painted a life-sized lion
snarling on our living room wall, with oils,
the kind that takes four coats to cover,
like goose grease spatters
when our holiday bird blew up in the stove.

The wedding was acres of tulle, champagne,
and tomato aspic, the groom in tails, his beard
untamed. I prayed for the marriage.
Tom could swallow Dorothy with his roar,
she had a way of dissolving,
leaving fisted words
that could make snow-laden corn stand tall.

The Good Witch

My daughter brings home a wren
with a broken wing. She is crying.
She asks me to fix it.
I’m good at fixing things –
clogged drains, flat tires, a lopsided cake.
I don’t know how to fix
a broken wing.

When I was young, I had a white canary.
I forgot to feed it or give it water
or change the newspaper in its cage.
I was busy being a child.
One day I found it curled up
under its feeding dish, stiff
as the fake birds on our Christmas tree.
I threw it out my bedroom window,
hoping it would fly.
I do not tell my daughter this.
She’s still crying. Her wren
is shivering on the countertop.

An old, bent woman lives on the block.
She cares for sick animals
and sings to them in Polish.
The children make fun of her.
They call her witch, say animals
don’t know Polish.
She grows lush tomatoes and string beans.
Sunflowers line her fence.
She lets rabbits eat her lettuce.

We put the wren in a shoe box
and my daughter bravely goes to find her.


Nancy Scott is the current managing editor of U.S.1 Worksheets, the journal of the U.S.1 Poets’ Cooperative. Her poems have appeared in Witness, Journal of New Jersey Poets, The Ledge, Sliptstream, Out of Line, Slant, and other literary journals, and online at Cultural Logic. Her first book of poetry, Down to the Quick (Plain View Press) was published in 2007.

Published in: on April 16, 2007 at 7:06 am  Leave a Comment  

Ellen Foos

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http://www.archive.org/download/EllenFoos_LittleKnittedSister/EllenFoosLittleKnittedSister.mp3

Little Knitted Sister

The Knit-Wits were a family.
Green father, blue mother,
pink and yellow children.
Yarn-topped heads.

The youngest child was good.
She did what she was told.
Got thrown across the playroom
and bounced right back.

The stuffed parents were
nonchalant. They’d go to the
seashore with Little Sister
locked in the toy cupboard.

Once the dog got her and left her
very worn down.
She spent the rest of the week
lying in the yard.

The yellow brother was okay.
He squashed her almost
inside out but then let her
wear his cowboy vest.

Nowadays plastic fashion
models don’t have families.
The knitted sister was lucky
to grow up back then.

Maternal Instinct

Not a mother who drove us to things,
didn’t like driving–or other Moms–
but in the backyard she neglected
her clothesline to play with us.
Joe was steady when she married him,
seven kids later he is still solid.
Her dreams were artistic,
not caught up in soap operas.
She was creating a new breed
with crayons, storybooks and blind faith.
We tried hard to satisfy;
her rovers, fakers and whiners,
scholars and volunteers.
On Sundays we went to Mass
and then for candy.
She kept her eye on the kitchen clock,
telling us the time
or teaching us to tell it.
Smell the pines she’d insist
when we were bundled on a walk.
It pierces me now
like no other advice.

Deer Leg

Tracking hoofprints in the snow with the dog.
Later on, a detached leg in the dog’s mouth.

Into the dumpster it gets hurled,
the dog circling for final traces.

We’re all looking for crowns for our efforts,
showing them off like a happy mutt.

When images of folly are rebroadcast,
some can clear them away,

others return to the chase, the meat,
not sure who claims victory.


Ellen Foos is the publisher of Ragged Sky Press and is a production editor at Princeton University Press. Her first collection of poetry, Little Knitted Sister, came out in 2006. A member of U.S. 1 Poets’ Cooperative, her poems have also appeared in U.S. 1 Worksheets, Kelsey Review, Edison Literary Review and Sensations Magazine. [www.raggedsky.com]

Published in: on April 15, 2007 at 10:23 am  Leave a Comment  

Darcy Cummings

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Trenton, 1944

All summer we’ve lived on the garden,
on canned goods and beans and broken cookies.
Now the tomato plants are eking out
their last green globes, and the garden
is buried in dry weeds. My mother has put away
her oils forever, covered the unfinished
clay figures with layers of damp canvas.
Along the edge of the hot day,
a cool breeze stirs. Come with me,
she calls, this is a good day to paint
kitchen chairs, a good day to weed the garden.
We are hiding in the hot garage, waiting until
the hard edge in her voice fades. We’ve built
a town, roads and stick houses in the sandy floor
that smells faintly of chickens and sick cats.
“Look what I’ve found,’ she cries, and slowly we leave
the dark stink. She is standing in the garden, holding
a glowing eggplant that was hidden in the weeds. It is
a sign, she says, too beautiful to eat. Only one, an omen.
She lifts the eggplant above her huge belly.
The afternoon light shines around her, in her red hair,
in the purple fruit. We know she can protect us
from the faint buzz of planes and submarines
off the New Jersey coast. We are safe because
she is in her garden holding this eggplant. See how it glows,
she says. How beautiful, like love, like a shining
magnificent bruise. We laugh uncertainly,
crowding around her. I touch the purply-black
surface and a small hand rises from the center of
the egg. She sets it down in a nest of weeds.
“Sit down,” she says, “We will paint it.”
She brings pastels and paint and spills them
on the ground. The pastels smudge our damp hands.
Tomorrow we will paint the chairs, but now,
she says, we will look at the eggplant, we will
paint this sign. It glows as if all the reds
and blues and greens of a hundred jars
of stewed tomatoes, chili and picalilli,
her summer labor, are concentrated in one place.
She touches us each lightly with her brush,
one two three four, then squeezes the first
slash of color on her palette, pulling all
the light of Trenton down on us.

Darcy Cummings’s poems have appeared in journals in the United States and England, including Poetry Northwest, Journal of New Jersey Poets, Carolina Quarterly, Negative Capability,  and Timber Creek Review. Her chapbook, Singing A Mass For The Dead was published in 1996. Her book, The Artist As Alice: From A Photographer’s Life won the Bright Hills Press book competition, and was published in September, 2006. Cummings has received fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Yaddo, the Virginia Center for the Arts, and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. She teaches writing for the Critical Writing Program at the University of Pennsylvania, for the New Jersey Writers Project, and for the Visual Poetry Program of The Public Arts Project at Rutgers University in Camden.

Published in: on April 14, 2007 at 10:29 am  Comments (2)  

John Timpane

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In Town

Billions and billions of times there has been a man
like this one. He enters town for the first time –
a city that has finally hired him. This is it.
It’s beginning, the story he worked so hard to tell.
He deserves his story – or wants to hope he does.
For what is deserving if not the flower of work?
What? He’ll work hard. He’ll do work that is good.
What blindsides him is his very first lunchtime: he is
actually free to have lunch, has to tell no one,
just go down and get lunch at the lunch truck,
always on the sun side of his building (he calls
it “his” now). Warm, sunshot, safe – everyone likes the sun.
He belongs in line. This is how it will be:
arrival, work, noon, lunch: he is finding his place, starling
in a flock, unfurling hours and hours. It’s almost his
turn. He must decide, fingers bills and coins in his
pocket. People order bizarre lunches, food he would never order.
When it’s one more person to go and then him,
a voice says, “Any change, man?” He follows the voice
to the vision: man, dirty; clothes/face/hair, dirty. Realizes
he’d noticed the smell in line but not the man –
resents the words, rude as the world; resents this city
that forces up such faces, imbalances man against man. He
resents the disadvantage of advantage, where he stands, something he
had not written into the story. The dirt man says
again – the man in line sees he’s wrong, looks for
someone else to blame. The dirt man’s words pull a
bill from the clean man’s pocket. Lunch poisoned, he can
no longer work in happiness. He doesn’t know, cannot decide;
this is not his to heal. Yet he takes to
walking with pockets loaded with coins, and as they all
cry for change, change, he gives, drowns. It’s not working.
There couldn’t be enough quarters in the world. And they
will never stop. They don’t see him, his unhappiness with
them, with being wrong, he and they locked in sickness.
Sinking, grows heavy, heavier, so he stops, walks long streets
to work, pockets empty, unresponsive chorusmaster of a failure choir,
though he cannot decide who besides himself has failed. One
day he comes to work at an empty office, works
hard, alone. His floor explodes, blows out a side of
his building, blows his body clean out over the river;
he strikes the river. Fury, breathless, confused enclosure. He’s OK – he can move – the surface – buckling mirror – he can get
there – he can survive – he’s a good worker – strong arms,
legs – knows where air/warmth/light are – knows he can –
but the surface flees him – he works – the surface recedes –
he thrashes – the surface tinges green – he flails – the surface
obscures, shuts away, something dragging him down, pockets heavy, pulling
him. He’s falling, water permissive, penetrable as air. He’s plummeting
toward the bottom, mud over his head. When he wakes,
he is sitting in the gutter and the people in
line at the lunch truck ignore his cries for change.

John Timpane is the Associate Editor of the Editorial Board of the Philadelphia Inquirer. His books include Writing Worth Reading (coauthored with Nancy H. Packer), It Could Be Verse, and Poetry for Dummies (coauthored with Maureen Watts and the Poetry Center at San Francisco State University). His poetry has appeared in Sequoia, Northeast Corridor, 5_Trope, Eight Millennial Voices, Bucks County Writer, Live Oak, Wild River Review, and elsewhere. He is married to Maria-Christina Keller, copy executive at Scientific American. They live in Lawrenceville, N.J., with their children, Pilar and Conor.

Published in: on April 13, 2007 at 9:20 am  Leave a Comment