August 22, 2009

found poems from 1982 & thank you Jerry

Synchronicity is maybe what it was.

Jenna was restless weeks ago and looking for things to get into the night she found the old photos, her idea to make a scrapbook for our 23rd wedding anniversary out of pictures from the past.

I finally dug the plastic bin of photos out from beside my dresser, where it sat beneath other plastic bins of things I have no place for except to put on top of other plastic bins.

It was two years ago that the plastic bin obsession seemed like a good idea. Now I wonder why I didn't opt for the dumpster.

While Jenna scattered photos across the rug searching for just the right ones, I came across a notebook I hadn't seen in a decade-plus: my college poetry notebook, stuff I wrote when I was 20, when Gerald McCarthy was my professor.

So I decided to type these up, for digital archiving, if not for your enjoyment. I hope maybe for both.

---------------------------------

A Poem for My Brother

I sit on the basement stairway
curl my fingers into fists
my feet move as
the veins on your arms rise
your hair drops beads of sweat
onto your knee
the high-hat, the snare
glisten under the single
unshaded lightbulb
hung from the wooden
ceiling beam.

I have never
been able to touch you.

---------------------------

one

you can talk to me now
about writing
I spill my ashtray
on the bed
rub gray ashes
into the cotton sheets
my grandmother gave me
so I can smell smoke
in my sleep.

You're growing even thinner
When I touch you,
you break
into pieces so small.

who stole
the meaning?

-----------------

home

the living room is gold now,
wall-to-wall carpet
sprouts shag
like those weeds
behind the high school.

someone moved
my copy of Lolita
and the hell of leaving
was easier
than coming back

-------------------------------

Shakedown

From the yard
the clouds skim the mountain
tear in places
turn the tips white
The snow slips down ledges
I try to remember
how the cold feels
on my finger tips.

I look down at hands
that won't move like they used to
think of the cops lifting me
off the ground,
Carlos telling Dupree
The motherfucker's dead.

It starts to rain
when they bring us in,
I climb the stairs,
decide I want another tattoo
on my shoulder
two red cherries
full round red
scratched into pasty white.

the color is gone
where the scar cuts through

The pheonix between my
thumb and forefinger
is faded around the edges

I pull it from beneath my bunk
hold it by the neck
bring it down hard
on an edge of concrete
splinters dig into my palm
show me I can still feel.

Downstairs
a fight starts on TV.
I listen to them howl
stuff the broken body
back where it belongs
strings lax, useless.

I close my fingers
around the bars
watch red shine on steel
wait for the footsteps.

--------------------------------

Frankie

For a living he makes teeth
in a small room
with empty walls.

In his dreams he is
happy to be mad.
The wrong man
shoots him
while babies scream
for murdered mothers

The sun leaves early
and the cold
sets shadows
upon his table.

He smiles and takes
one last look
in the mirror,
admires his handiwork
fake smile between
thin lips,
then
goes outside
to find the night.

--------------------------------

Meditation on the
Train Ride to Chicago

the windows move us past
the south side
and I wish we were
just leaving home.

Glass shatters
laughter leans against
a street light

an unseen hand
shakes the clothesline
torn t-shirts and diapers wave
underwear sponges up the dirt
from the city sky.

--------------------------------------

vision

The road
stays dark
my feet disappear
under me

to lose my arms
I stretch them forward
they will not leave me.

I dig my fingers in
hold my eyes in my hand
and squeeze
until the pain stops.

------------------------

The Rain

Against the tree
arms behind my back
I lean on my hands
rubbing bitten finger tips
up and down the bark.

Yesterday it was spring
rain-smell memories of
bicycles, porch lights, kickball,
the quiet splash
of sneakers
down the path toward
the mod hole
grass gone
hungry maggots mad
with anticipation.

Too young for the funeral,
I stayed behind and wondered
who would die next.
On TV, the world turned round
and everything
that was supposed to be funny
was.

----------------------------------------

2 comments:

Zo said...

Glad you posted these. Fresh, sweet.

xxx,
zo

Jeneane Sessum said...

Thank you kindly. I was so much younger then. I'm older than that now.