Saturday, September 10, 2005

5 Poems Maureen Alsop

Spontaneous Telegram

Dear Monkey face,

I write because my mind

is too hot to speak, is crowded and awake, mourns

constantly this vivisection from heart.

I’m taking you in stranger. You, with your crotch mouth

and hangman’s lisp. Yes, my ribs knew your ribs once,

at least once, fiber

to snatch gullet and back again.

You with your bushy beard and earthy thoughts

you think you think. I’m fond

of the way my interior smiles, sees you, greets you


Oh dear monkey face,

with your second paunch annihilated,

the wrong genetic code has entered,

has too, the magpie.

If I could only speak of what your eyes said,

fragments of bone those eyes. Carousels of fire mounted

on a spindle horse riding into darkness, your eyes.

I, still dreaming, wake and am still dreaming. Dream

of soapsuds and scuffle boards. Let me see you unclothed,

just your skin and your soul.

One at a time I pluck mysterious stars

from your hide, blank in their cave of sky.

I have come to you in tenderness, fed your hump.

I have come, mid ocean

to open my victory body and grind you in. I come

undone like gray teeth, pull proctored from skull.

This year, sequestered, bland, mimics

my mouth. My mouth is a bucket of nails, each day,

like a shock against hammer, breaks

your incisors down. Slightly forward each day

moves in me. As do you.

Vernacular of Snow in Summer

Over my dinner plate’s strewn nebulae

of breadcrumbs, wild summer wrens

pick fresh the freshly picked. Then move off—aborted

somewhere between flies and cloud.

Since your death, in parts of my life, light

imitates scragging boughs of pine. The sound of a chair

pushing back from the table is the unshakable voicelessness

of snow—this, an almost tenderness. Before the sky

hatches open into a delirious dark, I am lathered

in the smell of village heat, smell of cardamom, brine, amber—

snatched by malingering bells sounding too close, sounding

like the shape of distance. And along the playa, pelicans

smash ribbed beaks into oceanic currents and waves

pulse with a seam of white.

Nightingale Habit

He never ceases his music. And for this reason

I am determined to dream and not to wake

even the single eye of a slow worm, since

my waking is a thorn pressed sharply

to his breast. He revolves all night

through abundant counties, secrets,

shy meadows. I have witnessed him

soar over a small square of light, once

at noon.

And I know of a field— radiant

with midnight stars—where his scattered notes

slip through winter grasses. I hear

his song. That reminds me.

There is a little window across my chest,

inside stands a lion. A woman nuzzles her throat

against his bristled mane

and he has shown her

his curved teeth.

Spinnaker Shift

Twice this winter I deceived myself. The doves,

hard worn by the desert saltpan had vanished. But I woke

to hear them cooing on the roof like little gurgling drums.

It was as if I’d sailed through a portrait of a storm— staggered sails

slapped backward through ink-spun shipyards—and a tremulous

flutter of feathers hung in the air. Later

darkness fell across the afternoon; the milk gray sky

swirled and wrinkled. That same winter

drops of snow wrested themselves

down into a sheet of pewter. There comes a deathtime

when the world makes strange. And love winces

before her water breaks. Now I have begun

being a parent to myself. Right now

the room is not too cold for me; I cross it

without the laden sting of ice.

Wolf in My Glass

He is staring.

He is charming.

He is posturing his improbable lure.

When I say wolf I mean the gulp that is unending,

the crime that is so friendly.

Is this death or is he howling?

I am sightless. Scowling.

I am foam and footstep through his slosh.

Yes he knew this course, even without scheming.

Yes he knew my breasts would soon be squealing in his lungs.

He is fresh and thieving.

He is tight in my sick logic,

towering his smash against my teeth.