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May 21, 2015 | Poetry

Three Poems

Kerry Cullen

Three Poems photo

Thermometer

Then, for all the silver
That rolled down, that left
Ridged tracks, and then

That you caught it in raw palms
Wrestled it in a jar, for an inclement
Future. For the detonations:

The scraps we hungered
Over, the scabs that covered tender
Spaces we carried like plunder.

That I wouldn't say you made me
Furious, sunburnt, spitting
Mad: anomaly, and oasis.

For asking for, and of course
Over the answer: battle
Blistered, sodden in wry

Comprehension. Weighted
In mercury, burdened in time.
Who promised me storms?

Who promised me rain?
Glared it toward the cracks.
And for the gleaming edges

I insisted upon. For the dirty coins,
And for the canyons
That the water fell among.



Swan, Swan

I know your halves: how between gusts
of gray breath, gasps of absence
seep in you with coy whimpers.

I know you become addicted
each time, to beginning. I know you toss out
untouched leftovers, and miss them.

I know that I'm the cloud in your tea,
the letter you slit tremblingly open, and I
married you not from spite exactly--

But just to prove: I hold your bones
like marbles in my hand,
and I could set you rolling.



XX

Tired of the jaw-clamp games,
Electric eyes, poetic smiles,
Fingers that roll like mercury;
Figures whose whole skins shuck right off
At baleful glances. “Is this why"
You asked “I never was--"
--trailed off, and I can't answer.

That you shook me loose like dice,
Scattered my unwieldy bones
For snake eyes every goddamn time.

Now, we wake in Arizona.
And it's arid, and it's dry,
Stifling: what'd you expect?
I want to know:

When you cuffed me to your wrists
Back then, who did you think i was?

Fashioned of tinder, glued
In spit? I threaten to fall crumbled
But stumble on instead, and you
Glint like the old hooked moon.
I do: believe I could set tides
By your crooked finger; do
Believe your skin is soft as skin
You pared off someone else's meat,

I do believe: your teeth
Are glass, mashed in gloppy blood,
Souped up, and left for years
Beneath a chapped-dry desert sun

I do believe your envy was--
Don't try to tell me otherwise: I know
How heavily we slept. I know
We stapled shut our eyes.

 

image: Claudio Parentela


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