Thursday, August 19, 2010

Jell-O, the Wrong Kind of Jam and a Volcano

Did I mention that my boyfriend is British? And I am not? Well, he next asked for poems about "jam" and "geothermic activity." I came up with the three poems below. The Jell-O connection works like this: British "jam" is American "jelly" while British "jelly" is American "Jell-O." That's how I got to Jell-O. Since that was a little weak, I also gave him a traffic jam. And a volcano qualifies as geothermic activity, right?

Break Out the Power Tools

Somewhere between the width of floating eye-
ball filaments and the width of fishing line.
That’s the size hole that I could drill into
my heart, if I could find a drill bit small
enough. My right hand could keep writing while
my left hand cleanly drilled a hole so thin
that when the spinning sliver was removed,
it’d heal like Wolverine or Jell-O cubes.

While making dinner for myself, I sliced
into the web of skin between my left
hand’s thumb and pointer. I rinsed and sealed it right
away and bound the digits for a week.
The cells rejoined, repaired themselves, and now
the scar has made that spot a little stronger.

Beats per Second, Miles per Hour

We’re tortoises to hummingbirds
so slow that they don’t even see
us move and wonder how we got
from there to there. Snails are simply rocks.

When NASCAR drivers aren’t at work,
they’re forced to share our roads. To them,
we’re a traffic jam at 80 miles
per hour. A traffic jam’s reverse.

They advertise themselves with iridescent plumes,
kill insects in midair, hover to refuel.
Crashes scatter fragments of viridian
and ruby smirched with almost black. My cousin mounts
a piece of wreckage on her wall and calls it art.

Où Sont Les Neiges?

On June 6, 1816 two consecutive snowstorms, caused by a succession of major volcanic eruptions, covered Canada, New England and parts of New York state.

I left Friday happy hour at nine p.m.
When I’d arrived, it hadn’t snowed a flake.
Driving north, snow stuck like wads of phlegm
or wads of wet TP. I couldn’t make
it home so thought I’d try your place. Stoned Jake
answered the door. I asked, “Is Gavin here?”
then crashed with the cats ‘til you nuzzled me awake.
Why wasn’t there a storm like that this year?

“It’s not a date,” I told my mom before
you came around for Sunday night TV.
Mulder and Scully were locked behind some door
when my whole block lost electricity.
“It must be fate.” You scooted next to me.
I groped upstairs to get another beer
and chugged it down while you stepped out to pee.
Why wasn’t there a storm like that this year?

Your local bar was open, blizzard threat
or not. I parked, got smokes, defeated you
at every pinball game, or you just let
me win. By the time we got kicked out at two,
the lot was white. I grabbed you by your blue,
frayed hoody strings and pulled you in before fear
could stop me. Ten minutes passed then I withdrew.
Why wasn’t there a storm like that this year?

June of 1816 saw a storm
dump snow throughout the Northern Hemisphere.
Folks stayed home and kept each other warm.
Why wasn’t there a storm like that this year?

(originally published in Measure, Summer 2008)

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