Three Poems, by Rebecca Lu Kiernan.
I train elephants and monkeys in Quatar
With morsels of fruit and little pieces of string.
I sew them hats with pink feathers
And translucent violet capes.
Sometimes monkeys escape the circus.
I run into them at diners,
Red handkerchiefs on their heads,
Singing Willie Nelson songs for apple pie.
But elephant fugitives
Raised to think they can't escape
Because of fragile string draped around the foot
Are found trumpeting Billie Holiday songs
For more little pieces of string.
The razor gray Thursday we got the news
Of your deployment,
The verdict came out of a hat,
Just like the movies, they pick the pilot
About to retire and cartoonishly in love.
We ate at a stained glass corner bistro
Where no one spoke.
We were the youngest people there.
The music was twenty years old.
No one looked up from their plates.
There was not a crumb of laughter.
We avoided eye contact
To prevent irreparable fissures.
I waited till you surrendered to sleep
To cry ever so silently.
You woke up running from Hannibal Lechter
With a woman who was not quite your mother
And not quite me,
His terrible yellow teeth snapping
At your favorite shirt
Of blue boats and red non-fighting airplanes.
So, I said I loved you
And fed you a chocolate chip cookie,
But what I meant to say was this,
This is to confirm my whole-hoggedness,
I'm in it for the longest of long hauls.
I waited thirty-seven years to be with you
And I would wait thirty-seven more
And run waggy-tailed,
Your deerskin slippers in my teeth
To meet you again at the door.
I would crawl over uncharted shipwrecks,
Frozen tundra, rip tides,
To touch you in the dance
Of bent cobalt willows
Tremulous in the grey December rain.
I would walk the fractures
Of thinly frozen lakes
To taste you
In the cotton candy pink light
Of the year's final sunset.
I would knock over your black licorice candles
To untie your hands
Beneath your trap door,
The door no one else can see,
Your camouflage being so professional,
Your strategy so well rehearsed,
Bearskin rug strew haphazardly,
Love seat in bomber jacket leather
Catty-cornered to the plaid fainting couch,
Basket bouquet of amaryllis and stargazer lilies
As if your life were lived there
In natural light through French lace curtains,
Screen door open to the orchestra of
Tremulous wind chimes,
A gray dog's jubilant bark
When his whole world approaches
The stone lion guarded cobblestone walk.
Who else could see you,
Shivering in icy silence,
Wringing your clitoris-twirling hands,
Juggling your one-night stands?
Thumbing through your little black book
Of women whose slight-of-hands
Swept through you ghostlike
And never touched your face
Or brought you morning coffee,
Or handed you your heart
And put it back in place
When you kept it in a sterile jar
Along with sea shells ambivalently plucked
From unremarkable days,
Bar napkin notes in lipstick.
I would cup my hand
Around your immoveable stones,
Labyrinths of fire,
To satisfy your most fragile need,
Broken childhood wish,
Your darkest desire.
Worshipping you would be
Sifting through charred sands
Of your black volcano beaches
For some artifact
Of inextinguishable love.
Rebecca Lu Kiernan has published MS. Magazine, Asimov's Science Fiction, North American Review and many other magazines in the U.S. and Australia. Her first collection of poetry, Sex With Trees And Other Things Equally Responsive was published by 2nd River Press. The Man Who Remembered Too Much was published by Canada's Ygdrasil. She received a Rhysling nomination for When a Snake Bites You In The Ass.
Her poems have appeared several times in Offcourse
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