March 20, 2009

It's been done so many times I hardly know what it means

Lisa Brotman, Parted, 2008

Waiting and Finding
-- by Jack Gilbert

While he was in kindergarten, everybody wanted to play
the tomtoms when it came time for that. You had to
run in order to get there first, and he would not.
So he always had a triangle. He does not remember
how they played the tomtoms, but he sees clearly
their Chinese look. Red with dragons front and back
and gold studs around that held the drumhead tight.
If you had a triangle, you didn’t really make music.
You mostly waited while the tambourines and tomtoms
went on a long time. Until there was a signal for all
triangle people to hit them the right way. Usually once.
Then it was tomtoms and waiting some more. But what
he remembers is the sound of the triangle. A perfect,
shimmering sound that has lasted all his long life.
Fading out and coming again after a while. Getting lost
and the waiting for it to come again. Waiting meaning
without things. Meaning love sometimes dying out,
sometimes being taken away. Meaning that often he lives
silent in the middle of the world’s music. Waiting
for the best to come again. Beginning to hear the silence
as he waits. Beginning to like the silence maybe too much.

For Those of You Who Don't Know Me
-- by Jessy Randall

"For those of you who don’t know me,"
said the woman, following up competitively
on the group of young lawyers who had started
their toasts the same way, "I am
blah blah, and I've known the groom
since blah blah." And then she talked
about herself and her own life for what
seemed an eternity, massaging the groom’s
shoulders the whole while, practically sticking
her breasts in his ear and licking
his cummerbund right off his tux.
When she finally finished, the bride
pulled her in for a cheek-to-cheek
lipsmack, and then tossed the woman away
as she dribbled off her last order: "You
take good care of him now, you hear!"

Big Fun
-- by Alison Stine

It's been a month since you came on my stomach and there
is starting to miss you. Soap goes on. Sweaters go on.
Bruises go on burgeoning into brown flower-throats.
Elbow. Esophagus. Go on, abandon them. I like bars
that are named unsuspectingly, where you might find
yourself without meaning: Rickshaw Stop, Pete's Candy
Store, the Office, the Pharmacy Bar, the Library, Big
Fun. The ambulance bay is standing wide open, gurney
straps loose, syringes uncorked, each unstuck bandage
a tongue candy-white. Best friends are at the ready for
impulse, for injury. What will he do to her? The others
left marks. Here lover. Here line. I once had an end-stop.
The ultrasound, running over my thighs, rubbed hard to see
the echo. On the screen, a tented city. On the screen,
a clotted vein. In the blood, in the body, I am hard little
stars. Beneath your gaze, I am naked and you understand.
With your head on my stomach, with my tongue in your
hair. Your heart is strong, but you were not there yet.
Salt was not there yet in stripes, in abandon. We were
clothed and in corners. We were making up minds.
For the minds, for the making, for the cloth-bundled
nerves, for the calcium deposits, for the clavicle which
burns, for the red, for the white, for the raw, for the stars,
for the Pharmacy and Rickshaw, for the danger
and the verve, the finish and the verse, I would lie,
I would lie, I would lie down for you. Awwww yeah.


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