Monday, March 01, 2004

Lisa Gordon

Hang-nail Handled

They said it was sin I was hiding
but it was only a tattered lottery ticket
as unhinged as I routinely am -
a little tattered too -
thinning away in
my workman-like back pocket
because the sky might upchuck me
any day now &
I didn't want to be found
bereft of a wonky wish
even if only a borrowed one.


In a fine weave
of shift & cope
we make use of each other

Rain falls & we watch it
noting how it has to do
with everything, even dry lips
left over from anxiety
raveling out.

Belief in anything like endurance
is out of fashion
even as yellow slickers are.

I'll zip yours
if you'll zip mine

Why I'll Never Be The Cooling Sweat Blotch of Dickinson

She had palm tree breath
in the crystalline winter
of every feeling over the top
to the point of paralysis -

the gaping hole in the garden
where she'd plucked the first bud
so quickly the possibility of coveting
never entered.

I take her words
the pattern an edge of honest
extreme which I admire -

take her words with a cup of spiked tea
easing absolute out of benign recognition,
cat tongue racing away to the slatternly
program of yelling
against the silence.

She is a dream.
She is frenetic neat - so it seems to me -
in a way only never coming undone
in the front room in front of someone - anyone -
can in the end allow for.

I'll never be that starkness.

I'll never lose her symptoms
of being more there
than the way I mean to be.


I've a tendency to practice
laying out victuals
on the off chance
a feast will result.

In a kitchen lacking counter space
anticipation piles up among
items of a menu in revolt -
a wealth of sticky surfaces.

But look:
there could be
hands washed to the wrist
perched over plates
radiantly emptied;
intense second helpings
for the never-sated;
one too-sweet mouthful
of bleeding berry.

Cannibal, courtier, vegan -
staples of my guest list
on honest days.

(I take my place
at the head of the table
suddenly aware
of how hungry I am.)


Raw spaces
where you work to fit the linear
musings of logic -

the thrust, the pound, the slit
superimposed over
dimples & sweat pool,
stark clavicle hum.


Inherently you're other -
legs/hair/vulva -
you're underside after all

conch shell & collusion
strong stripped hip


He knows
parallel lines never meet.

To help him with that knowledge
you casually rock his head in your arms
content to let space spill
if only just because.

Dearest Jane

You suggest I acquire a Chinese name. Yours means very very.
Sliding beneath the sound, a path that insists.

Young I was teased about my old fashioned middle name - Florence for muting fever.
Took revenge on my brother Ross, how he'd colour up at mention of a red red Rose.

The best names carry either everything or nothing - parcels piled by the kitchen sink.
Bo, Ursula, Allah, Chrysanthemum.

Vague tags in a crossword of muddy fate - sweet water & lemon juice.
That old movie Ship of Fools lacked the substance of its diminutive.

These days so many children with those heart-breaking, rootless names.
They think everything is made up, no rhyme or season.

I'm always forgetting who is who.
Leave it to me to know you well, never how to address you.


So you're querying like a novice again
immune to the experiential
sloughing off of innocence
with one hand blankly open,
the other sorrowfully fisted.

Your name is just a name you say
& no amount of vague knowing
harvested on trap-door mornings after
can make you into a 'true' someone.

You're invariably red-lipped, though -
did you know that? -
& the way you seem to see
with all three eyes
the twitch of necessary politics
in the way the streetlight changes -

the way you never shake off
asking after stillborn events & babies
like everything must be related:

well yes - wicked isn't it
to be two or three or four
& still somehow
less than one.


When I say too much
I still don't say everything

all the dross of languages
in a dark handbag slung upside-down
over the moon's crater of a shoulder
like an armpit filled
to spilling.

In the aftermath
everyone is free to sift
sucking in gut upon discovery
of mini skirt, cinch-waist belt, too tight hat -

all that & those words like shredded tissue
for some magnetic's tiptop parade
wedded to the nervous tickle
that is applause avoiding
growing sickly.

I can't help it if this is coming off
as a thought grown confused -
it's what happens sometimes
when you actually stop
patternless to listen.

Stone Soup

On ward he favours
dove white, faith blue -
grows a goatee,
sharpens crayons
(hoards the yellow ones )
seems blankly luminous
as a wave-dunked rock.

No talking please:
a Jesus cockatoo toned down
radiating mildness &
stone soup for all.

(At the nurses' station some feel
smiley faces to be
plumply inappropriate.)

What is strange
is what the others think
to add to the pot:
Sara's rosary cigarettes,
Bill's psychic termites,
Maya on cue
with a charity sweater for
the girl who loathes eye brows.

As bellies fill
with rumbling sustenance -
intentions & hopes &
gap-filling sighs -
predictable desire
digs in like a hang-nail -
everyone thirstily
sated on a sudden yet
still demanding more because

surely there always
could be more.

Lisa Gordon lives in Quebec. Her work has appeared in zines including Mipo, Junket & Writer's Hood. She has poems in the 11th issue of PoetrySz.

Lisa Gordon Steve Tills Christopher Barnes Reed Altemus

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