"Poetry" Personal Page by craic
Law and Order
He came up behind me on the street
and held a knife to my bare throat.
My bag was tucked under my arm
but I loosed my grip and let him
rummage inside among my things.
My wallet. With the library cards,
the raffle tickets, and some cash.
With one hand he filched the notes.
I could not see his face but heard
his breath panting on my neck.
My visa card fell to the pavement.
I felt the awkward stoop jolt me
as he picked it up. “What’s this?”
he said. “What’s your name?” he said.
He dragged me backwards towards
the ATM and I silently acquiesced.
I saw a woman looking at us in this
intimate embrace. In this city street.
The quizzical look you give to lovers
stealing kisses from each other like
a violent crime, a grievous bodily harm.
I struggled to speak, above the knife,
“He wants to know my name!” I said.
Cut Your Cloth
Take up the scissors, the fingers of your right hand know
where to find them, how to work them. Like that! And that!
Cut the air in two. Crunch the blades with your expertise.
Like a little song of emptiness, find the snip snip that makes
a snarl. Now what was it you were about to do, my friend?
The cloth is streaming off the loom with a shudder and thud
and I know the way the women stand back, I have seen them,
watching, deftly, their big soft hands unflexed on their bellies.
They shift from foot to foot on the long shift, and hum under
the roaring thunder of machines making material and stuff.
I have seen a brisk woman seize a bolt of cloth in a shop
and hurl it on the counter so it unfurls like an omen exact
to the lip, put out one sharp hand to stop the flutter and
measure with both arms what you might want. A yard.
Or more. Sometimes she rips it for you and it screams.
Sometimes she cuts it with a slick kerplunk, kerplunk.
I have seen a woman, dreamy and dismayed by plenty,
listen to the crackle of the taffeta, the purr of velveteen,
hat awry, unable to begin, picking at a cuticle inchoately
as if her hands, and her scissors, are useless things.
... for he was wearing the sable coat he had inherited
beside him, on the table, was the mascara of immaturity.
If you break one of the things
then you have the other thing
if you break the other thing
then you have nothing.
The Face of the Body
The artist's model sees everything but she never speaks.
The actor calls the chest and belly the face of their body.
She puts on her clothes to be unrecognisable. None of
them remember her face. The actor opens the face of his
/her body and engages with the audience. Maybe winks.
She must learn to NOT be naked. And to speak. Speak.
The men are gassing our white ants. I camp with the kids at a friend's.
The statement a mother makes when she spreads winter rose berber
under her family's feet. Luxurious.
"Love your pink carpet!"
She looks sideways - she knows me - she takes me back into her lounge room,
points at the same hard-wearing beige mottle we all lay under our families feet.
"I wanted the rose but I laid yesterday's porridge 'til the kids have left home.
What's wrong with your eyes? Sometimes I wonder. I don't know about you."
It's the useful cupboards at the planning stage, that they never built
(because the house burnt down) that I saw that time until they led me
right through where they would be (but weren't) and proved me wrong.
You are the dealer and you deal in pain
you are the witch doctor and you make it rain
you are the Professor of Psychotherapy
and you're insane.
I told her - When you are writing on the piece of paper
your orders to the Universe, be sure to make it very clear
that you want a challenge that does not involve suffering.
You have learned enough from dear old Auntie Suffering.
I told her - There is no sickness in your hand that I can see.
So why are you sitting in the wheelchair with a chemo haircut
and only one tit? They won't give you a 3 euro discount unless
you have a disability card. Are you planning to die just when I
got to really like you? That hardly seems cricket, damn you!
She told me - Don't visit this weekend because I am in hospital.
That stuff I told you about that we both thought was stress is in
fact a tumour in my brain. All that weakness on my left side plus.
And now they have found plenty of stuff in my lungs, excuse me
while I go downstairs for a cigarette. Maybe my daughter will take
a lesson from me, I thought she would die before me. And so did I.
And the witch in my hip bites me and my hand jerks and breaks
the second to last wedding present Belgian glass. Downwards
is not possible, I drop newspapers onto the shards and spilt wine.
To mark the place for the someone else who will have to clean up
my mess. He had swept the other glass off the table that very night
but it did not break. Mine broke. We have one glass left. To drink
together to, alas, exactly the way things are. To Old Mother Death.
And all her relations, all the simpering attendant agonies and griefs.
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