V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics




The first weighed light dense heavy in my palm
back in the day when Ann and I’d go trekking,
stalking the wild asparagus. Two blades,
can-opener, screwdriver, toothpick, auger—
all stowable in one sleek plum-red case
emblazoned with a logo silver shield
that bore the foursquare cross of Switzerland.

Lost, at what point in that decade, unknown.
I rummaged, searched and—not there. Stolen, maybe.
Time, plotting its zigs and zags, cuts both ways.

Well, one such knife’s much like another; its blithe
replacement could have almost duped the wielder.
Repertory stretching as years raced by,
we learned to clean a grubby nail, to pop
a cork, and (if not always those I hoped for)
to open letters—some with compliments
phrased for eyes that read between the blades.

Next time I could cite theft—of the overnight
bag that Chris had packed it in, at least. 
Rage a hack might describe as blind or stabbing
slid in between adjacent ribs. So did I
march off again to find a duplicate?
Mm-hm, but chose instead a variant
in black, the unfathomable color favored
by mourner, artist, urbanite, and priest.

Helpmate, to keep acumen keen you seldom
venture out these days and always with core
safeguards. Disapproval, hopeless grief?
No, but I’ve heard your thoughts: “Today’s a salt
synonym for all that is. Walk softly,
and keep me close. Your black-and-silver ally
will throw the outcome into strong relief
and lend an edge to years that came before.”


© by Alfred Corn


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