V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics





The sniff of wipers on the glass 
insists, Get out, go on, get out.
The beautiful shock of a punch 
assuages the reflexive flinch 
and buttons up one's old raincoat 
with fingers that tremble loose, or 
thrill vaguely to the abuser. 

The first bruise is like the first kiss, 
right and proper to remember 
forever, the white hot gasp 
inhaled open-mouthed to the chest, 
the taproot of shooting temper 
that, like a gladiolus with the thrips, 
rasps dry and secretive, and drops 

sick in March.  It's as serviceable 
as the raincoat in whose pockets 
sudden panic hunts for change 
in headlights that cough yellow-orange 
among Kleenex and movie tickets, 
counting and recounting the cost, 
impatient for a tardy bus, 

which when it comes is packed with thrips, 
crumb-white and weighing down the stem. 
One defies them to crawl in closer, 
shoving to the thorn on Wilshire. 
(One nostril clears: smell of onion jam.) 
Rain drags us.  Our number swells, 
inching home through Beverly Hills. 

At home the freezer hints that somewhere 
in the hoarfrost the thing is hidden. 
There's no smart without blood's fool, 
nor does pain even fissure the skull 
until one remembers all of a sudden, 
the trick that the swelling resists— 
black-eyed peas, tiny frozen fists.

© by Rhoda Janzen


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