Offcourse Literary Journal

Two Poems, by Mike Kinnaird.

Terrible Nonsense

the wings in charge of god's northern throat
coalesced upon the quantum shaft,
the elemental nickel clause having been triggered
by the unauthorized artistic use of inferno.

in the book of rust there were only four lines
two per slate
"clean when cast"
barely visible upon the dryblood page

the ankles, well-turned, began to deliquesce at once
on all known accelerators then in use;
the autocrash victims were mostly nightclub women,
their bodies seemed posed, provocative.


Reflections on a Fresh Corpse

Later when you're casketed supine within your Sunday suit,
I'll lightly pat your cold hand and notice how
The nails could use a trimming;
I'll wonder how that thickly-folded hand
Could never hold a book or hammer,
Or brush habitually across a smooth kitchen counter-top
On your way to the back of the house at bedtime.

Later I'll be curious as to the art of the embalmer,
How he keeps your mouth serene
With either glue or sutures;
I'll guess at names for all the flowers which aren't roses
That temporarily surround you in sympathy and color.

But now —
Now you are surrounded by a different kind of flora,
Crushed tissues held together by sputum
Grown darker through the day;
Now your mouth hangs open more than it should,
The gums and gaps between the teeth have begun
To resemble parts of a skull;
Your hands still hold a hint of the curve
From when the fingers recently gripped the rail
And you lunged forward and back, forward and back,
Desperately searching for one more breath
Before you lay back shuddering on your cranked-up bed
In your stained white T-shirt and your soiled gray shorts,
Spittle encrusted on your stubbled chin,
The pointless oxygen mask askew,
Your face a sudden testimony,
Absolutely sculptured, puzzled,
Frightened, overwhelmed, trapped, done —

Later there'll be calls to make,
Forms to sign, cards to send;
Later there'll be parts to play,
Words to mouth, roles to fill,

But now,
Now you're lying dead in the house you built,
Your wife is in the next room calling for help,
The air machine whistles that annoying sound,
Only this time it doesn't bother you.

Mike Kinnaird's verse has appeared numerous times in Offcourse, most recently in Issue #18, Fall 2003.


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