Sixfold poetry winter 20.., p.8
Sixfold Poetry Winter 2016, p.8Sixfold
the gum line and mark the lost babies with no remorse
for making crooked the clean straight rows
measured as the meter of nursery rhymes
that trilled across their white surface.
Pressing your tender-smooth cheeks
I try to feel the harbingers of adult-hood,
of the cutting ahead, some ghost braille
cells that spell your story, code I
cannot read. More solid than flesh they will lie
with you long after I stop sharing your pillow.
They will shape the words you form
your life with, language I only hope to understand.
Unkind reminders, lucky gatekeepers
of your breath. They will know you—
blood and bone, better than I—I who grew them in you while you grew in me—
they will guard your secrets, daughter, cradle to grave.
My grandmother’s blue raincoat takes me by surprise
Here is her closet behind dry-cleaner’s plastic, the rip
In the pocket finally fixed. I remember her eyes
Finding me crouched behind the darkness of her perfumed dresses, my lip
Bit, eyes clenched (instantly invisible), broken beads ready to rain
From my clutched hands. But, innocent now, into the cuff I slip
My hand to find her—smooth nails, rings, the pillowy veins
She hated, wishing gloves still a must in ladies fashion. I tear
The clear sheath and look for missed stains
That might map the course we traveled—that root beer
Spill from lunch at Friendly’s is now just shadow.
I press my face to the wide lapel but don’t find her there
Either. Guiding my arms through the sleeves—too short—though
In the mirror I make her move again, feel her low
Voice in the warmth of the upturned collar,
In the pocket, a Cert, half-way to powder.
I inspected the buds at night with my dad
to see which might bloom by morning.
Still I was always surprised by the red
or peach that burst forth from the heart
of the blossoms and enlivened the quiet
green bank. We made sure to get a picture;
they were only there for the day, but the picture
would last much longer. You think of becoming a dad
when I come home today as we sit in the quiet
kitchen smiling. You make toast in the morning,
ask how I feel, say you love me with all of your heart.
I laugh at your doting and ask for the red
raspberry jam, but you say there’s no red
only black. I look at my belly, try to picture
how it will pop out and how the little heart
beat will get strong. I’ve been watching, like my dad,
for the daylilies, but it’s early yet, only May this morning.
The green swords protect the roots, but the top’s pursed lips are quiet.
I leave the radio off and enjoy the quiet
drive to work. The coats of the thoroughbreds
steam; the rain has hushed the morning.
At lunch I go to the library and leaf through picture
books, ones I had as a child. A young dad
guides the scissors as his daughter cuts a heart
from pink paper. It’s an I Love You Heart,
she beams to her father, forgetting the rule about quiet.
He puts a finger to his lips, and I see you as a dad.
In the bathroom I find a bright red
has filled the bowl. At the doctor’s they scan another picture,
but there is no longer shows the pulse of the first morning.
The blood comes heavy in the night, and in morning
you’re still awake by my side. I lay my head on your heart,
am soothed by its beat. I think of the small paper picture
and the glowing shape that was its center. I stay quiet,
hold my hand to my belly and wait. We watch the red
blossom on the sheet; Someday, you’ll be a great dad.
I remember the morning you thought you’d be a dad,
a picture of the future as clear as the coming red
or peach daylilies, before the heart went quiet.
An Act of Kindness
We are not who we say we are. We have severely failed to provide anyone the opportunity for fulfillment. Stethoscopes, ballet slippers. Crayons, pastels, and fingerpaints. A floor riddled with exit wounds, the foundations quenched by spilled milk. Ironically, you can’t hear all the shouting pouring out from the four walls of this tiny universe. He said, she said, she pushed, he fell, no he didn’t—bit by words more fanged than the mouths from which they came.
I’m starting to mistake our voices for gunshots. Please stop pulling so many triggers at once.
We take small steps. Less like who we say we are, less like who we should be. Unsteady if we’re lucky, fumbling backwards, awkward and accidental. Still no control over the momentum we generate for ourselves, surprised by all the tumbles (seeing the forest for the upside down trees might be all the perspective we’re going to get).
I have propped myself up on siblings who might still be bruised from my own growing pains. I have fashioned spare limbs from the words of friends who indulge me in moments of nonsense. Today, in the tenuous safety and dusty nebulae of four walls, I tried to put on McKenna’s coat (she’s two; she loved it). Tomorrow, I’ll teach an eight year old wrist locks. There may be bruises. There will never be shouting. We are more than that. That’s not who they deserve to be.
And that’s not who I will let them become.
Dear, (and from the start, written with too much heart, a clumsy greeting, and the deepest sense of don’t in his chest)
I wish you’d stop reading books like crystal balls as if they could foretell your future. As if the crinkled mirrors they contain aren’t worth gazing into (look at all that gorgeous lettering—you could mistake the lines of your face for typography). Your reflection should fall apart at the monument you are, despair whenever you walk away. Most people don’t remember what wild, wonderful faces they made seeing how beautiful they were for the first time, but somehow we grow up learning that our only value lies in our reflection? Who looks at ANYONE and thinks well, aren’t you hideous? Listen (and when I say listen, I mean you steady your shaking everything, twist your expression into something uncomfortably spectacular, like your first reflection, and find this letter like a mirror).
When I say every experience
is the same kind of overlap you find
in all of those pages you turn.
You offer up so much of yourself to their pleas,
and they need you to forgive.
(What is forgiveness?)
When I say covering declarations
of your beauty
with too many adjectives
would weigh it down.
When I say this won’t last. Every word is truth, regardless of your own admission or the escape routes you’ve considered. Those hollowed caverns in your chest stand on scaffolds. A lesser body would not carve out the walls of its own future, or push deeper in despite fear of collapse.
You are a monument.
You have thumbtack claws. A roar that travels in circles. Sometimes, simply standing near you is to place my head between your jaws. It’s no metaphor—I’ve felt teeth. You wouldn’t be the first to nip at a provider, back bristling for the contest as the two of us inch the volume up on our growls, snarling warnings and tweaking the slant of brows into granite intimidation. Yours is a force set to self-destruct as easily as it could demolish. A cub
Are you okay? You have thumbtack claws. I swear I see them dragging tallies through the dirt most days, trying to puzzle through a maze of steel wire. We all do it, or so I hope. Some scope out finish lines and sprint, others are heavy-footed with little foresight. You just had the 1 in 80 chance of being forced to navigate in the dark, not to mention the collision of echoes that comes with it. There are stretches—days, weeks—when they can only sit back and watch you take the same right turn over, and over, and over.
So there’s whiplash. Eruptions. Things come to blows. I keep tripping on the line between hug and straitjacket.
“Ooops,” the tiger says. “Tiger is sorry.”
Two beasts, mangled, panting, fur in knots. The linoleum is hard on both of us, emaciated as we look. Why doesn’t this ever end up on the carpet?
“Read to tiger?” But tiger reads to me, and I find myself wondering which of us is more comforted in this moment, hoping that we are both stronger for it.
(Time and Teeth)
Count teeth like oak rings
mouth of a lion,
with all its heart set on showing off
what came before, or how much is left.
I dont really know if an extra year means much
until you get to the last one.
“Look at all the shit I should’ve done by now,”
Someone hasn’t given you enough attention.
Up until now, I’ve only been crawling. The arms shift, the legs rock one after another, limbs so careful to keep you balanced and on track. Someone put Big Bird on a coffee table, six inches out of reach. He’s soft and grinning, and that plush beak is teething’s best friend. Scratch that, second best. The dog strolls by. Greetings in kisses. Gaping, toothless jaws from the both of us, indulging in sensory overload.
Hey, help me out here.
the clock at midnight.
And a voice that makes noise loud enough
for the ghosts of cathedral towers
to remind us
this day, we give it a lot of weight. That we aren’t
Not yet. I still have so much to do.
I’m getting old.
I’m too young to understand what that even means.
Death on the lookout,
vague sense of medical vigilance,
who I have been,
and who I will be.
I spent a lot of time with that dog. Now I chew things over longer than I probably need to. Before today, I had a major at a university. Rewind some more, find me braver than I know myself. (“Meet me here this afternoon. I’ve got a surprise for you.”) Decisive moments, late nights with friends (growing security in dank smells), sleeping on roll-out mattresses with no a/c. Nostalgia is just the reminder that we are already living. Ageless, beautiful rows of moments strung together out of sequence like teeth lining the jaws of a lion.
That grin alone forms lifetimes.
Jane A. Horvat
the sky is falling, LOUDLY
When I was hatched
my mom had to pick away the eggshells,
break the film between my oasis and the noise.
It were as if I knew beforehand how loud the world would be.
Even then, eagerness to be overwhelmed was not part of
my genetic makeup.
I had hoped my down feathers would muffle the sounds
or that my wings could carry me into
a vacuum of sorts.
Yet, one morning I woke up to the screech of
the rusty clipping shears
and knew I’d be walking to Radio Shack
to buy a pair of noise-cancelling headphones.
I wished for hearing aids
so I could have the ability to turn them off.
I learned to speak with my hands
so I could stop listening with my mouth.
Once upon a time
they asked me
“What came first,
the chicken or the egg?”
but that question is irrelevant
when you were born a chicken
but identify as a deaf-leopard
hiding behind her spots.
Same shit different day
Today I told myself,
“Hey, it’s just a day.
You’ll put on a white blouse,
Tuck it into your pencil skirt,
And catch the metro.
Some business man in an
Expensive suit will upend his
Gourmet coffee on your shirt
And grumble, exasperated,
About his bad luck
Without telling you he’s sorry
Because he doesn’t have time to be sorry
And you won’t have time to change
But you’ll stop by the Gap
And rip the closest cream-colored shirt
Off its hanger and it’ll be rung up
And on you before you realize
You needed to buy white not cream.”
All in all,
today could be worse.
But I sighed
because I told myself that yesterday.
Blank Stares Don’t Create Fairy Tales
Is there a message to decipher or lines to read between
now that I’ve paused?
Before, everything was encrypted, sheaves of allegories lay strewn,
graphite and wood shavings littered the bottom of the basket.
I lived in tornado alley and new twisters swept through every weekend.
I would hide in the cellar, tie myself to a pipe, and create.
Chaos and angst spurred the gradual bulge of my forearm muscles.
The cacophony of never-resolving arguments was my vinyl-encased soundtrack.
I twirled ’round and ’round while maintaining the stunning lines ’rinas must keep
but only when the winds were whipping past at 70 mph or more.
I locked myself down there as limb-ripping gales tore through foundations.
Countless scribbles left ridges on the walls, the floor, my eyelids, everywhere.
Streaming hair fanned out mid-spin. Should’ve snapped photos it was so picturesque.
Perpetual despair looked beautiful on me. Occasional pleasure reapplied my rogue.
Now my mail arrives at a different address and contentment accompanies me
as the rungs of the high-backed chair bitingly remind me I’m stagnant.
I no longer pursue the same utensils.
My creations would weep if they weren’t already extinct.
Can’t craft a code or spin a yarn woven with illusion, not when I’m submerged in smiles.
What does that say about me?
My current queries don’t spawn stories or sonnets, just a frightened preponderance
of what this conundrum entails for a future in fairy-dust and freedom.
Is it even worth pressing play if there is nothing to watch?
When I find myself in the colors
I drown in a pool of lavender.
A pedophile skips stones
across the surface.
Each plop sends
a ripple of turquoise spreading out,
but when the jagged rock
scrapes my forehead, fuchsia
drips down the side of my face.
When the droplet collides with
a shimmering silver portal
opens and transports us,
the Vacation Bible School group
decked out in matching
into a silent movie
where it’s raining black and white
and my mauve screams
meet the dead air
and my head goes under
the grey water
while the pedophile’s cream whistle
is mean to keep his mind
off the pink pigtails
on my side of submerged Saturn.
Mint smiles turn towards
the smoothness of his distraction.
I notice them
with my violet eyes
and they pass over my flailing
until everything fades to black
and we are all just swimming
on opposite shores of Lake Eerie.
Pretty in P!nk
Looking in the mirror is how you and I play Russian roulette.
Looking over our shoulders is how we take a break from playing dumb.
You twirl me around after to our wedding song,
But I’m wearing a blood-splattered negligée,
And you’re sporting a ripped oxford and multiple stab wounds.
God, I hate how much I love you.
When people ask us how we’re doing
We smile with our mouths closed and say,
“We’re so much more than fine.”
Never lying, just burning down and freezing to death in the same breath.
We were smart enough
To avoid purchasing the glass house,
Despite the realtor’s insistence of it having
The perfect backyard of sand and cacti.
We are not black and white picket fence people.
No, we are black and blue bruises people,
Pink and green-eyed monster people,
Purple hearts for bravery and run-through-every-yellow-light people.
We continue to try even though we’ve gone colorblind.
Your embrace is holding a hand warmer
And drinking cinnamon whisky apple cider until
Sixfold Poetry Winter 2016 by Sixfold / History & Fiction have rating 2.9 out of 5 / Based on32 votes