where the writers are
Selected Poems: Part I: Messages
wim_color.jpg

Selected Poems

by Wim Coleman

Part I: Messages

© by Wim Coleman, 2011

All rights reserved.

 

*

 

                        Library Poem

 

I brought back the book:

the one you said I had,

the one I said I didn’t have,

the one I accused you of checking out to someone else

or letting disappear in the summitless stacks

or letting slip into the well of words.

You accused me of stealing it.

You accused me of losing it deliberately.

Don’t deny you used those words exactly.

 

Yes I thought of feeding its yellow pages to the caterpillars,

yes I thought of feeding it entire to the delinquent burning leaves,

yes I thought of drowning as well

to watch its black breath run in streams,

yes I thought of leaving it helpless and abandoned

to the rapacious mall, to the larcenous bus stop

in hopes some braver man would steal it,

but what are laws except to save us from the beast

and preserve us from that universal wish

to kill our children and insulate our houses with them?

 

The book has lived a nightmare

bound hostage with my shoes,

suffocating in the stench of talcum powder

hallucinating in the too long wakeful darkness,

needing to pee, unable to use the bathroom,

hearing the abuse of boxes stuffed with tissue paper.

You would accuse it of complicity;

it is not safe with you;

you may not have it back.

 

*

 

             Memo

 

I.O.U.

the voice of the owl

that speaks

through the window

of my new home

as I type

this poem for you

& I.O.U.

the voice of

the bird or child

I hear mocking

the owl in reply

& I.O.U.

masks

of owls & birds

& children

without number

& words

for the masks

to speak.

 

*

 

            Message Left on My Answering Machine

 

I see a rainbow.

I thought I’d catch you there.

Now I see two rainbows.

I’m calling on the only Tuesday in November.

It’s three-thirty in the afternoon but only temporarily.

I am at a pay phone in Pasadena.

Go out in your yard and look.

Look now don’t wait till you get home.

Don’t stop to get dressed either.

One rainbow is spread out above the other.

It is the paler of the two but not by much.

Can you see them?

Can you see the mountains from where you are?

You can see right through these rainbows to the mountains.

They stretch from one end of the earth to the other.

They’re extremely bright.

Night couldn’t kill these rainbows.

They could peel the paint right off the world.

You could even read the fine print by them.

They’re that bright really.

Please call me please.

Let’s talk before three-thirty is over.

Please there will be no other Tuesdays.

 

*

 

            Nocturne

 

And now we wander

with the twisting earth

between us. I turn

my headboard to the north

at nights afraid to move.

Will you come to this bed

looking for me? Sleep

strains on its rope.

It gets your scent

from a piece of clothing

you left two or a thousand

years ago. I turn my sleep

free. I send it

searching.

 

*

 

            Three Double Takes

 

a) allegretto

 

A zebra with a party

horn and hat has crashed

your thirtieth. This

creature was your friend

when you were three

and lived beneath the

checkered tablecloth

and would come up

from time to time

to munch with you on

globes of milk-drenched

Too-Sweets, but this

was not to be expected.

 

Hear the horn &

knit your brow &

turn & see &

nod as if you

understand &

turn away.

Your eyes pop out,

you turn right back

& stare amazed.

 

b) allegro

 

Her husband has

come back again

as you were raising

up your glasses

in a toast to

one another

naked in white

sparkling wine

swapping an

indecent ripe

Greek olive

faintly tinged

with feta. He

called her from

Tibet an hour ago.

This was not

to be expected.

 

Hear & turn.

Look & nod.

Turn away.

Beat. Beat.

Face react.

Turn again.

Stare afraid.

Beat. Beat.

 

c) presto

 

Death

has come

in a fake

tuxedo

t-shirt

with a

chainsaw

while you

were adding

a rhythm

section to

St. Matthew's

Passion.

He calls

you by

a name

you can't

pronounce.

This

was not

to be

expected.

 

Hear. Turn

Look. Nod.

Turn. Six.

Seven. Eight.

Eyes pop.

Turn. Gape.

Stare. Six.

Seven. Eight.