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May 1, 2017 | Poetry

Three Poems

Russell Brakefield

Three Poems photo

Shutter, Lag

Driving, we saw a shepherd swollen to the shoulder
            and I told her it was a deer.

The smaller ones, I said, are here for the thaw.

A backdrop of cattails watched over the bloating.
             A celling of glowing lilies.

In the movies sometimes a person will close his eyes very quickly.
             A snap of shutter, a lag. An open window
             closing.

At night I dreamt I could wave my limbs and lose them.
That nothing was the worst thing to be.
Then that I was a ship builder, my hands filled with wooden cells.

I woke and wrote and wrote. 
I worked like a magician at a child’s party,
            towards a mastery of disappearance and creation.

The animals I can’t name, I can kill off or invent. 

The swallows in the attic brushed their wings
against the tresses like white gloves, and she slept on
            in her nest of blankets.

Some days we still wake so close
you could not convince me of our separate dreaming.

 

ORCHESTRA

Bees sleep

because they need to

like us. Together
a bundle

of bees asleep
at night

is a concertina
wheezing closed.

In the hive
they dance

a democratic dance,
a waltz

to prioritize.
Abdomen wobbles

a whole note.
I read today

some bees feel
the thrum

of electric current
as they encounter

a flower’s field,
which is true

but also
what I need to be— 

social spark,
singing field.

 

The Perseids

Eyes aloft in August, lifted towards the East.
I am hoping for a flurry, radio dust
stretched across the night sky.

Above me, all the alien lovers are asleep,
stuck together beneath their foreign moons.  

There is a woman at home in bed with her dog.
She knows I’m looking for the Perseids.
I’ve reminded her the time is now to go out
and gather the oldest fires of the universe.

Each time we order a group of stars

we invoke great empathy
for the living forms around us.

The comets are quiet still and I am a tree,
blacker than the sky or the dirt.

Were she with me, I would move my hand around her waist
like the sun of some long dead globe.

I would tell her how Perseus turned titans to stone,
struck down snakes and beasts of the sea
for his Andromeda.

I can find no greater source of envy—
he who crossed the world for his love,

to be pressed together for eons in the sky.

 

 

image: Bryan Bowie


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