Monday, May 30, 2011

Corners 1 and 2

On Friday at the monthly Traverse Poetry slam, I read a four-part poem that explores my love-hate relationship with curves. Here are the first two sections:


1   I know you are one for straights and flats,
But I am transfixed by corners.
The look of a curve, the camber,
The centrifugal pull,
The edge of just about to let go the earth,
The anticipation, the just beyond unknown,
The sashay of an S-bend,
The exhilaration of a tightening hook;
Like a tongue-tip around the crease in your lips…

No, that was a lie.
I am not a corners guy.
I avoid curves like pavement cracks.
I am straight as a bible page’s white edge.
More, I shun gradients too.
I am a railway line,
My three little bears path
Not too steep, not too tight:
Predestined.

2   You know, once, I dated a roller coaster.
Well, I was dragged jolted along in her train.
One day I was standing my big carny palm open,
She screamed by and my body was sucked into her wake.

She’d get all jacked up on fairy floss, her lips
Glistening jeweled with the sharp sticky red of donut jam,
Her mouth sweet knife-edged crystals that
Would cut and dissolve convex under the moist pressure of my tongue.

I lost my stomach on our first date,
My chest locked at a full inhale,
The floor falling away from me so
I floated an inch above all with a head full of air.

As she crested thrill reaching peaks
And made g force turns out of acute angled dives
I held my arm across my torso like a safety belt,
The sound of a rattling bolt set loose in my mind.

I danced in the vacuum that her carriage left,
A series of pinball junkie jinks and gibes
Until one night I missed a tack and a bolt
Died with a clang like a railway hammer strike

With a receding pleasure scream she was gone.

To be honest, I was relieved, the blessing of not having to give an acceptance speech because you were not the one chosen to win.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Maid of Orleans Folds Washing

(This poem is more about me than anyone else...)


As I do the bills at the dining room table,
You fold our clean, pure cotton sheets.

I know you despise me though you’d never let
Those words slip through your pursed pale lips:
You wear pert fitted cashmere like a breastplate;
Joan of Arc was not more righteous than you.

Holding your aquiline nose higher than your eyeline,
Holding your posture as the hatred smoulders inside,
You’d rather burn at the stake
Than state what is burning you:
The arrogant grace of knowing you’re right

Your real passion clutched
In a brassiere and pearled buttons,
A sheet of cold metal between our two lives.
And I am trapped in a B movie mashup
Of I Robot and Stepford Wives

If we kiss, you taste like battery leads.
You don’t make love or even have sex;
The curves of your body like rosary beads,
You bear it like penance or a pap smear test

You never raise your voice, speak out or shout:
Always the same tone like a plucked wound spring.

I want you to scream
I want you to slap
The rise of blood back to my skin.

I want to hear you like Ani Di Franco or Martha Wainwright
When she’s horny and drunk,
Not Celine Dion at a funeral home.
I want you to say, no I want you to shout fuck!

I am an arsehole: Say it! Say it: I’m a prick!

But you press your lips, tighten the tendons in your cheeks.
Hands folded like aristocracy,
Laying guilt like clergy,
Laying guilt like kindling,

And I’m the heretic.

Well, I went and struck a match in my mind.

And as the flames rise to my waist
And I scream your name

You snap tea towels crease-free and fold them onto a shelf

And I lower my head and enter numbers in spreadsheet cells.