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Things in Light Poetry Series 2013: Ardith L. Brown



Here's some poetry for you to read this Sunday, now and into the future. Today's contributor to TiL is Ardith L. Brown.


Heart's Desire
  
I never want to desire death.

Or motion zombies to speak of love. You in a spider-lit coma:
hosting ringless crackles of cell phone lines. No dial tone
or the undead to answer. The numbers never change.

In fact I would devour death.

Incessant corrupter of life, it sheds no coat
of heavenly piles, no flash of mind-spraying light,
anti-matter dancing, heart-attack like, on Christmas Eve.

If I could neutralize the end,

my dimple-wry smile would slyly whisk
your scattered moment, sweep up the bones
remaining in the bed, photo-stilled and cold.

The mask I wear now watches death

with starving eyes and stains.
But the scenery--its wealth of information--
gets lost in my desire, and,

once again, death reshapes me.


Sunset Matter

If the priest called her Louise instead of
Luisa, if he didn't confuse her
story with another dead person'a life,
if he would just go ahead and say God
when he means it: not light, not love or faith
but some word to require awe and longing
from the mourners in the chapel, perhaps
then there would be room for celebration.

Today is not the birthday of the world.
And although there was an open casket
I did not touch the body like the rest
of the family, did not say goodbye;
all I could remember was the last thing
she ever ate. Strawberries, ripe and cold.


Battery Park

New York City
I swell in your ashes.
1989 and the Bowery
was lit up, Hannukah lights
so fake and soft, each window
glowing pipes.

No longer a dead beatnik
gorged on Monk or
adrenaline
dawn.

No tenement downtown,
needle-gun, lopped
off, the right knee
bone.

Oh unstable universe--

We were walking to Battery Park.
From the West Village, my patent
boots splitting at the root of our feet,
we floated, toes in ecstasy
fingers in flesh.
We didn't speak.

You held my hand
and all the twinkling stopped.
The Statue of Liberty, gone.
The harbor floor, deep green,
sated in murk with dowager eyes.
How unladylike, cutting, cold
and wet, the sea clinging
to a marble, to black lace.

The vertical fabric
of girder, steel, and glass
swallowing the night sky,
rendering it harmless.
You were listing capitols,
baseball teams and wines
and I said what for?

The water has a ceiling
we stumble across.
Dilapidated streets,
drops of frozen juniper,
sparkle of soot--
you aren't as smart
as I am-- you're hooked.

Try to answer
the other question, the smell
of rotten corn on pavement.
There isn't a microphone
at the bottom. Listen.
I can't hear you.

Speak louder planets
pretty moon so dangerously
quiet. Speak louder
so I can hear
the purring of earthquakes
the rumble of riots.

Remind me again how to call,
the phone's face, blank
the buttons, raw
cancerous and new
like a wormhole
I no longer bite in two.
Time is wasted there,
unholy lips too taut
to explain.

Don't tell me I'm old.
Forty six or not.
Memory like a card
catalog, middle age
like a thumb.
Don't be a fool;
it's quiet down here
at the end of the line.


Fingersnap

Mockingbirds mock
and talkingbirds talk.
I blame both,
feathers and beak,
when spring spoils
the quiet, the dawn;
winter's turn lost
in the hard sound.
We hear noise
like whales do,
like a fist through glass
or thunder clap.

That crash of light hits hard,
blames the hand for its fingers,
lets loose a yowl so open
it wakes me up, hungover,
in a foreign country,
the language, forgotten;
the newspaper
the billboards
the television shows
the taxis and buses,
what we read
what we believe
all white lies.

Would I rather be lost
in the approaching
storm at noon,
when the sky darkens
to pieces and the leaves
stand so still,
than stay here,
with my headache
my papers to grade,
my aspirin and hot tea,
my bubblegum breath
and blasphemous needs?
I ripen on the branch
and spill down
to the earth.
Such is the longing.

Stop wasting time.
Walk backwards
to face the dull truth
that we are spinning
while the planet folds
lepers into false graves,
and who am I to say
oh follow, please follow--
it's never too late for saving,
never wrong to confess
the good deeds with the bad.
The hope of rationalized kisses,
lit upon a face
so somber, so gone.

Look me in the eye,
birds, and show me your
tears. I remember now
my parents, their mothers
and fathers all collapsed
into a timeline of future
and mysterious grace
where we no longer exist.

The twisted clock says wait:
here are numbers now.
And glowing sparingly,
like the fading bulb
in an EXIT sign,
a green dress shrinks
around my figure
while I grow smaller,
lighter, invisible.
You can't see me;
my hair's on fire,
the timber's bursting
through the flame.

Spray me with water
so I can get back to work.


Traveler

Thank you, mercy, for your pseudo altruism.
A lot of geniuses out there need your help and I can't
do it alone. Stand still. Knock me down with silence.

Thank you also for adrenaline. Like a cat slips
past the fence, twisting and writhing, you bring
slivers of relief when Monday growls mad teeth.

While he goes off to South America,
fear never fails to undermine my senses,
creep into my black coffee, relax the facts

until I'm certain the plane will crash.
Grace, your slinking limbs grease through
garden gates and willow trees twitch elastic

while my two hearts race. Wink with rage,
defy my age like Garbo or Bacall, stately
as a mansion straps its formal roses in place,

never being plucked but dying nonetheless.
Each day I maintain; it's the months I can't deny.
Mercy vanish me with fingertips, your obliterating kiss.

***

Ardith L. Brown currently resides in Flannery O'Connor's hometown of Milledgeville, GA, but she doesn't forget New Mexico.  When she is not wrangling family or grading papers, she writes poems.  She has a B.A. in Poetry from UNM, an M.A. in Literature from the University of Houston, and an M.F.A in Creative Writing from Georgia College & State University. She misses green chile, mountains, and liberals.

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