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November 13, 2017 | Poetry

Three Poems

Jane Huffman

Three Poems photo

Sonnet within a Sonnet

I tried exaggeration, studied her,
named her Helena. For her, I made
public my want. Made private
my desire. We argued in circles—

the breast vs. the breast pump
vs. the peep show vs. the peeper,
vs. the cutlet-shaped implant, vs.
the surgeon herself, vs. her apron.

Helena, I snaked the shower drain.
If it was sentimental, I’m sorry.
You are as sentimental as bedbugs.
I’ve piled-on you so much already:

          Your alleged face.
          Your alleged lobe.
          Your pin-sized
          earring hole.

          Your rubbing alcohol
          perfume.
          Your lope.
          Your mirrored

          persona.
          Your crank-
          operated projector.
          Your alleged

          hair, each curl
          allegedly golden.

It’s as if I held, Helena,
the barreled iron there myself.


Sonnet with Slow Swirl at the Edge of the Sea

                                                                         after Mary Ruefle

If I came to know happiness
as a thing that could be held
by the body, like a canvas can
hold an ounce of persimmon
oil paint, knifed and rearranged
into the shape of a seascape,
I would be happy.

If I came to the estate
of happiness and it was red—
the chair, the grandfather clock,
the urn, the dresser, the bodies
of the sunbathers outside,
I would assume I had traveled
in the wrong direction.

If I was a sunbather
on the shore of happiness,
my face padded white with oxides,
I would clamor for shells,
the partial object, convince myself
that I was alone in the sun,
my body sprawled in the corner
of the beach like a signature.

          After being hospitalized in 1968
          for an aortic aneurysm, Rothko’s doctor
          prescribed that he only paint and draw
          on mediums less than three feet tall.

Like Rothko at his sketchpad,
I was and I wasn’t.


Anti-Etude

Forget mortification.

There are the woods
and then there are the clearings.

Nothing beckons you
to enter with your body.

Forget the dead doe.
Let the doe just be dead.

Forget beauty. Its toll booths.
Its world’s-largest truck stop.

I have paid. I have eaten.

The orgasm is the most boring
subject on the planet.

Forget happiness. Harold Hill
and Marion the librarian.

The air trumpet. The air trombone.

Forget relativity. An inheritance
of costume jewelry,

sleep that comes and goes
all night, slamming the door wall.

Forget goodness. It's all sugar.

That once-familiar
horizon gone rick-rack.

 

image: Steven Lang


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