V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics





Oh, spare me the glitter 
of your dreams, those 
pallid rocks pulled
from the lake, losing
all magnificence
after a moment's sun.
They are merely mineral,
no more profound
than your so-precious bones
that time will unlock,
burning away all else
to reveal their muteness.

Too damn easy any morning
receiving cloud-messages—
by noon the whole scenario
will blur like watercolor
or slide home with a thump
into the drawer of Freud's 
roll-top desk with the rest
of your sad Victoriana.
You don't need dream's 
cartoons—all you need
is the stubborn one-foot,
one-foot plod that you
were born, admit it,
to carry out—a journey,
yes, but best if you don't
inquire too sharply
of reason or destination.

Your colloquy last night,
for example, with Kathy Dustin—
you truly think there's some
message there?  It didn't
seem odd she hadn't aged
in thirty-four years?  Or that
she loved you in ways
no fourteen year old knows?
Do you suppose being dead
for decades might actually
kindle a lust for you
that dying itself didn't?

But that's just it, my friend—
nothing seems strange
or out of place in the
funhouse of dream, 
not Kathy's unfretful face
so like your grandmother's,
or the gilded bicycle
you rode with her into the lobby
of a four-star hotel,
or the third pair of pants
you had to peel off 
to find, at last, her white
limber legs.  No matter
that you made love
on the crest of a garage 
in the scent not of asphalt
shingles but candlewax
and chocolate—and then
swam through summer air
naked to the top of an elm
cut down years before Kathy.

Even if somehow
in last night's fervor 
you sniffed the dust
of one girl's vanished soul,
here you are now
listening in drab stormlight
to cars swish down
the gusty street,
and in truth you barely
remember anything about her—

except glimmers of one afternoon
at the public pool,
Kathy rising in glory
from her splendid jackknife,
skin glistening, eyes open
to all, or, two years later,
the shamefaced stammering visit
you and your brother made
to her hospital bed, your mother
patrolling the corridor
grimly, none of you finding
a thing to say, really,
or if you did it has long since
gone the way of words
shouted out a car window
some drunken night you'd have
to invent to recall, both spirit
and sense long since melted
into wind or breath or both. 

© by David Graham


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