Three Poems by Rebecca Lu Kiernan.

The Stranger

He smiled adoringly at me from across the room
Never knowing me at all, head bent slightly as if
In prayer, unblinking eyes stripping my clothes
Tongue remembering me from the future. He gave
Up his table and approached. I poured him a Mona
Lisa smile and turned him away slightly amused at
The attempt, this one's got balls, at least. When I
Glimpsed him returning I thought the intentions must
Be honorable, or he was an unrelenting soldier, my
Politics on quiet conversion. The next time we met
Some prescience pulled us together to embrace
Madly as we had a thousand times before, as we
Had wept and laughed and whispered in other
Languages, other ages, parallel universes and
Exploding suns. So, I lived with this man and was
Constantly surprised under the covers, delighted
When his passion could not rest the night, astounded
At the delicious methods in which I could be taken,
Frightened at the unusual adventures he taught me to
Crave, puzzled at the pulsing thrill of pain on pleasure.
One morning, my wedding dress hanging on the door
He told me it was done and the maid had begun
Packing my things. Years later, married with two sons
I ran into him on holiday. He smiled adoringly from
Across the room never knowing me at all.

Shepherd's War

The shepherd's moon is my signal to come.
We meet at the exact center of Lost Horizon
Bridge. We measured it once and carved a dash
With a shark's tooth, starting these journeys on
Unblinking mutual consent.
I complain the bombing kept me up all night.
He promises I was never in any danger.
There are certain things a soldier must get right
And beyond, must do repeatedly until there is
Not the slightest flinching.
His tongue parts my lips, we strip for the dive.
The water is always colder than before
But it never seems amazing that we can breathe it.
Deeper, darker, tighter we twist through crystal
Caves to shipwrecks and ruined genius nations.
The artifacts can never never be removed, or
Spoken of, even at penetration. How could this
Have happened anyway? The pieces are too large
To have slipped through.
It almost seems like damage reconstructed, a
Museum sample of how disasters go, molecule by
Impossible scrap, junk glass mixed with diamond,
The haphazard strike of preservation, invisibility.
We emerge together, our bodies knowing the
Escape by heart.
Forgive a Russian coin in a pocket, a bent arrow,
A ruby ring in a clenched fist.
Transparent for a while, we stalk the bent cobalt
Willows, stunned at how seeing one's self in a
Particular place is so often the prescience of which
Boat will be broken, which bridge will flood.
It never seems quite right to be back in the skin.
A ring, a coin thought to be ransacked
Cannot be moved by the anti-flesh
And still there is a startled gripping of the pockets,
A calm staring at empty hands.
Lover, through the soup of space and time
I ask what could keep you from the war.
"Schroedinger's cat," you say with a tired smile,
"For I am at once in your tender hands
And dying on the field."

Scenes from a Beach Wedding

Emerald waves, sugar white sand, rocking
Black boat, two lacey paper-cut people
Pose for a kiss, cannon fire from a pirate
Ship beyond the suicide rocks.
Where do the giraffes go to eat their young?
This cannot be done in front of tourists.
Silver starlings feather down their hoof prints.
A sweet smell wafts from the gingerbread
Lilies blooming in the gazebo window box.
Their diced blueberry eyes do not want to
Watch our lips touch. Their flat brown arms
Wave us away. Their down turned cherry
Icing smiles are full of dark prenuptial advice.
Dying stingrays wash up on the shore, along
With wedding pearls, a heirloom cameo and
Beach house blueprints. Messages in bottles
Are written on tarot cards, so many hanged
Men. The notched lavender sky is missing a
Puzzle piece in the shape of a rope.
Floodlights drown the scene in hot silver light.
The director catapults up from a lip shaped
Chair, throws off his leopard cape, puts his
French cigar out in the aquarium.
Salt water splashes thin silhouettes
Disintegrating them together into
Unrecognizable garbage to be eaten by a
Three-legged rat who gets shot over the swell
Of violin music and the crawl of closing credits
By friendly fire, of course.

Rebecca Lu Kiernan is the editor of the print literary, GECKO. Her fiction has appeared in
NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW, GARGOYLE and in previous issues of Offcourse.
She lives on the Gulf of Mexico.

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