Reincarnation: here today and back tomorrow
Finding Nemo Not
Don’t like fish with eyes,
reminds me of a lover with none.
Pathetic creature’s looking up at me,
saying, “Don’t eat me.”
A woman’s mouth,
gutted of expression
would just be all lies.
Strangely, it’s the fanciest
restaurants that serve up the heads.
And the most beautiful women
who are gouged of all vision.
Fact is, I want my meat generic,
my love-life particular.
Let what I devour
leave its head at home,
what feeds me
see where I am putting it.
A card table hangs for an instant in the air
kicked by a retreating player.
The screen door slams and the hooch is empty.
Twelve men scramble into a would-be grave.
Deep in the guts of the bunker their
bodies pressed into the sandy floor.
Scared men telling jokes.
I don’t want to hear that there was no key,
never any kite,
I’m just not interested in those kinds of stories anymore.
I take it to heart, though,
when you mention
that on his deathbed
he was entirely estranged from his son
and that every time the lightning struck him,
he bit his lip not to cry.
Dream of the Bone Dance (81)
Last night my tooth fell out,
the one beside the canine,
and you were sitting on the ground
outside on the grass
legs tucked underneath a long
with your brother full of
Blank slates are born
Crying into the silence
Dress them in pink and blue
Look in and wonder
Gets taken home
Who is handed their chalk?
New lives are born
In the maternity wing
With that baby smell
Full slates are brought back in
Crying into the silence
Wonder which one gets taken home
Smell the disinfectant
Old lives depart
In this wing
Where have they written with their chalk?
—Alexandra N. King (14 years old)
for Michael Heizer
what if there was nothing
save these holes, save
for a mutinous ship and the jumping off?
written to Heizer’s sculpture North, East, South, West (Dia:Beacon)
Love at First Sight
Keith told me
he was going
to visit this couple
who makes love
that she and her
and what better
way to express
it and I say
I don’t even
brush my teeth
and all the
women I ever
fell in love with
left or are
or both yet
The Ladder: A Translation from German
Without Knowing German
Underwater, the water is god
and its sex becomes what fur
can only imagine, cannot hold
—the sweetness of a mossy rock
makes my heart calcify.
My lover is a butcher who wraps me
in the color of sausage; and he
—also my dentist, also my landlord,
also my carpenter and my policeman—
I cannot say the words, he—Ecstasy!
This lover with wet on his shoulders like a fawn.
More than all else, he is animal.
He knows the ditch and scramble,
the slick bank of the streambed
and beyond, a meadow lush
with the footprints of his mother.
—Mary Crockett Hill
Every Sunday Morning
Every Sunday morning my granddaddy,
Lee Allen, put away his overalls which
smelled of cow manure and chewing tobacco,
put on his suit and stood in the pulpit
of the Pinetucky Baptist Church.
His auburn hair flared into waves
on each side of the part; his gold tooth
shone and his face glowed as he worked
his way into Heaven, quoting,
In my Father’s house
are many mansions. I go
to prepare a place for you
so that where I am
there you may be also.
At this very point every Sunday,
Lee Allen choked up, the women
shook and held their Sunday hankies
over their mouths, and the men
Opportunity (for Cathy)
When the jaundice appears
So will acceptance
Light a fire and sit by the hearth
Debts are paid
Resentments redeemed rewritten
Your hand can stop trembling, cleaning, tippling.
Corkscrew the soul and let your mother love you
You have the time and she the opportunity
The Women Across from Me Are Discussing Death
It’s not so much the coffin, but the fistful of dirt thrown, offering
a hollow knocking—the body is nothing but surface.
Mold encumbers its victims similarly, preying on the silent organism,
wearing with waiting, and forgotten against the back wall of the refrigerator.
We are not all marked with an irreverent bruised-green spot.
The body is not content with its flimsy remedies,
as moments are memorized by joints, inscribing our daily tremors.
We stop turning over our arms, checking for marks, and start making lists.
The women across from me in the fruit aisle are discussing death,
as I finger an avocado’s bumpy scalp. This is mourning—the open casket,
holding the fruit we know to be too ripe. We rehearse our procession,
milling uncomfortably past the overly-fondled peaches,
the dastardly tomatoes, crouching with their ruptured casing,
and cannot even hide from the cilantro with her wallowing limbs.
We meander into our positions, but do not touch and go as practiced. Today,
we coax the tumid figure with praise, as I imagine the cancer nesting around his organs, teaching his body to press and fold in against itself.
—Lisa M. Buckton
Ways to Lose Weight
Take the balloons, her father told her in the parking lot of the hospital.
She wrapped her fingers around the strings to the balloons, little white strings like hair, a bit browned from where his fingers had been clenching them for so long, and to her surprise, she began to float away.
Her father seemed unphased, and stood below her as she grew smaller, smiling. The shock of leaving the ground was more than she had expected, although she had imagined this for years, you never know what it means to take flight until the moment after, she realized.
Only then do you realize that your solar plexus has felt like a watermelon all along, but you never knew it. When that watermelon drops, it bleeds all over, seeds, rind and everything, raw and ugly against the spot of parking lot from where you took off.
The place in between your hips kind of feels like worms for a second, and everything that’s ever happened below your belly button all of a sudden comes out like a confession in another language that you didn’t know you spoke until now.
The funny part is, she couldn’t stop shaking. At first, she figured it was just the shock of take-off; just a little turbulence. She held on tighter, tried to wrap her legs around the angel hair strings, humped and hugged them until the bucking rattled her shoulders. She didn’t understand. She looked up at the balloons for an answer. GET WELL SOON, they told her.
Her father was a raisin and the hospital was an oatmeal cookie and she wanted to dip them in milk and eat them. She wanted to dip her finger in her town and lick it, get some of it stuck under her spitty fingernail.
The tinny backsides of the grocery store balloons caught the sun and blinded her until she was forced to let go. And though she had tried within, it wasn’t until she left the atmosphere that she stopped shaking and everything stood still.
—Rebecca Wild Nelson
Submissions are accepted year-round. Deadline for our February issue is January 5. Send up to three poems or three pages (whichever comes first), by regular mail, to: Poetry, 314 Wall St., Kingston, NY 12401, or via e-mail (preferred) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject: Poetry Submission. Full submission guidelines at www.chronogram.com/submissions.