This is my entry into the yeah write #201 fiction|poetry challenge.
Being a peripatetic poet is fun.
I get to write in a variety of places:
in possum-infested bedrooms,
on picnic tables at the intersection of metal roads,
on a yoga mat at the Whanganui Women’s Network.
Sometimes I feel like an octopus, arms flailing. One tentacle in old poems. One arm following the road. Past, future, present, zooming. It’s dizzying but also a joy.
I spent this afternoon in Fleur Wickes’ studio, green pen all over printed-out versions of 52 pages of poems, many of which formed the spine of my senior thesis in Folklore & Mythology.
I haven’t seen the poems printed out since I handed in that thesis, There Are No Straight Lines, back in March 2014. The beast has taken a variety of forms since.
Holy guacamole, was that almost a year ago?
Anywho, here are two poems from the bunch.
A fire drill summons us out of sleep.
Naked on your bed, we throw off
the sheets, wrap your brown blanket
around our hips and breasts and I take
your hand with my hand down the stairwell.
There are others, some drunk. Most laughing
or swearing. The Friday fire alarm bleats on
off on. 43 seconds to exit your room: stairs
to courtyard to vestibule then sidewalk. This
mandatory procedure. On the gravel we pass
the drag queen we met at the pub. We tug ourselves
away from the crowd, find a dry patch of grass
not too dewy to sit and watch the more feathering-out
tangles and knots and drops of stairwell after stairwell
emptying its human contents. The fire truck speeds in, flashing
reds and blues. Men in yellow fire-retardant suits.
Then barefoot we begin to speak Spanish. You write
your fingertips on my ribs as costillitas and then chamorro,
the secret space behind the leg. Even two languages isn’t enough
for the body and all its parts, its whole.
But the birds? On that day
rain rose not fell. Every-
one stood with their heads to
the ground, doctor’s orders,
to increase circulation
touch the divine, or maybe
to levitate). But those birds
trapped in puddles, caught
in a mid-day bath (as fear of
a fire when showering)
just disappeared, up:
Did they know? Did they bother
to say goodbye? And on the ground,
what held up the trunks of trees,
if not flow of water upside down?
In the evening news reel, Niagara Falls
was a torrent, a vertical column of water
and some poor soul in a barrel
was just going up and up and up,
a drip a speck a drop in the ozone layer.
Then we were all on a quest
to ask the sky for our water, please
we are thirsty and dizzy from pressing
our ears to the ground. And she said:
it was never yours to take.