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©2019 by Cathy Colman. Proudly created with Wix.com

 

LEDA, OUTSIDE EL PASO, TEXAS

 

 

…. another unslept night    outside, the catclaw

 

trees, jagged shadows  

 

the grass like knives 

 

drawn from Dr. Caligari’s Cabinet.

 

I’m bleached by moonlight. 

 

I cover myself with autobiography,

 

a frayed blanket, dark dissonant wind 

 

chimes,     mother’s frail sea-voice.

 

Nothing works so I go back    to the bar 

 

where he still sits clutching

 

gold rush brew    nothing between us 

 

except his salt

 

breath     a large man like a chunk of broken off

 

        mountain.

 

 

... and suddenly we’re 

 

in the weeds     he wants me to be nothing, his

 

nothing, just like my father did.

 

He wants me like that,   prime-

 

numbered and factored-out, wearing infinity’s 

 

clothes.     

 

He enters me rutting, his weight pinning me    

 

       as if gravity gave him an extra dose. 

 

I dig my nails into the hard winter 

 

of his back, bite      his leathery shoulder

 

 

….then he’s gone as I lie under the neon    

 

flashing: Vacancy      

 

I strip off to

 

burrow into 

        

                   bed,   the stirred-up 

 

dark     like river dirt

 

in a storm      rolling over and over, 

 

                           writhing with nearly visible 

 

snakes    when daybreak forces 

 

itself into my eyes

 

 as I pull another

 

feather     from my mouth…

 

DREAM HOUSE

                                              “Allow me to ignore that description of a room.” —André Breton

I go into the kitchen and lie down on the couch,

throw hard-boiled eggs into the fireplace.

What wall separates tossing from turning? Which room

knows enough Chinese to make the rug lie down?

This house has lost its memory. Every day when I wake

up, it has forgotten where the piano goes.

Just a minute ago, I was reading Bachelard
on the discontinuity of time. It made sense then. Now

I can’t find scissors anywhere. I need them to cut my bangs

over the computer. I open the freezer and find the TV.

Of course, it’s on CSPAN. I’m starting to get angry.

Someone said defrost anger and you get grief.

Or was that turkey and gravy? That person also folded

the blanket down on my bed in the garage.

Beech trees aren’t supposed to grow in southern California.

Two of them intertwine like vertebrates as they stand

dying in my only bathroom. Their fatal leaves fall into the toilet.

The crawl space where the praying mantises live is sometimes

the attic. This house doesn’t have an attic. So you can see

my confusion. This house has forgotten more than I can

remember, deep in the drawers, closets, dusty thin lips of

old file folders. A chair I’ve rarely paid attention to, finally

turns its back on me. The oven, ditto.

 

 


 

THE LAST TIME I SAW SAMUEL BECKETT

 

 

Instead of a partial object, a total object with missing parts
                                                          

as in the universe 

that is 80% dark matter, which we know 

exists only 

because of its pull on what we can see, planets and tides 

and galaxy clusters 

moving much faster than their weight allows, strange, 

circumnavigating 

their own clichés. Dark matter which is dark yet also transparent 

as if 

when I am heard, I can no longer be seen in a disguise 

easily worn

to a train wreck. Or if seen, being born but not asking 

to be.

Father tamping light down until it learns to tamp itself. 

Until just 

a painted mouth, the brevity of red talking in its sleep,

as if 

a whole other existence waits for me

at the edge 

of a factory that manufactures ether. Or outside

a silent but crowded ballroom. While the two men talk and disregard me:

the ragged tree—

Nothing is funnier than unhappiness.   

All objects fall in the same way. If you happen 

to look up.

 

 

THE LAST TIME I SAW ANTONIN ARTAUD

 

I fell in love with your face or maybe not your face
but the lack of delirium in your eyes in the film Napoleon,
your jaw so beautiful it should have been breaking news or maybe
not news but something setting off bells, an alarm that portended

 
the pitch of your lecture on the Plague which was not a lecture
but an enactment of someone coming down with the Plague, 
a flesh-caught mannequin and his visionary muse, who made the theatre
not only find its double but its cannibal or maybe not its cannibal but its

 

voraciousness like an undercurrent that pulled

 down Icarus and his burnt wings.

You, who as a teenager were stabbed in the back by a pimp in Paris

for no reason, whose somnambulism woke other sleepers fumbling

 

in their beds or maybe not their beds but their army cots and then

the sanitarium where you remembered you owned the twisted

walking stick that belonged not only to Jesus and Lucifer but to

St. Patrick and you tried to return it to Ireland where 


you were put in a straightjacket. Or maybe not a straitjacket but

a closer-fitting suit, a bespoke suit, or maybe a costume

you’d wear for the rest of your life, while you dragged the sun

and litmus paper moon on stage, both visible in the same hour or

 

maybe not an hour but an intermittent infinity, found in the soft spot

of your madness, your godless mouth full with scatological oaths 
and screams, the hissing of snakes and glossolalia after the camera 
flickered over your skin, shimmering as you played Marat

 
or maybe not your skin but a fiery field from which you can’t

escape or maybe not escape but enter the room

where you died, sitting at the foot of the bed,

holding your shoe.

 

 

 

THE LAST TIME I SAW DELPHINE SEYRIG

 

 

No one will give you a map. Little flutter-by,
          your elbow bent, hand resting 
on your shoulder near the ropes of the neck,
          resting like a wing not beating.  
Didn’t I meet you last year in the garden 
          where humans cast shadows
but objects don’t?

You glide around the same corners as if 
          the reappearance of a familiar
corridor newly traversed were a precipice.  
          Didn’t I meet you last year at the Gestalt convention
where we all stood in for each other? My breath
         
          trapped in its paper cage. You, at the Grand Ball, 
wearing your Chanel hoard-of-blooms, 
          white as a fossil. Your body more vassal than vessel.
Even as the barometer dropped and we rushed
          outside where the wind was just a start-up business,
and the sculptures were doomed to re-anoint themselves
          with last season’s light, didn’t I meet you on the balcony’s

blank page, last year like now, no real past or present,
          just an almost-between-us? 

 

 

HOW TO

The secret is to rise early.
Listen to liturgical collisions in the jazz riffs.
See how that square of sunlight foreshadows

a bigger radiance in the day.
Drink strong tea.  Get up and sing
a lively song.  Or re-enact Galileo's discovery

of a heliocentric universe.  Sorry, I meant
Copernicus.  Then peel hard-boiled
eggs that roll wildly around the plate

reminding you vaguely of dating.
Slice the eggs so you're surprised
by the gold coin yolk and how painterly

they look on the blue Fiestaware
next to the Early Girl tomato.  Now
you might begin to suspect that

some duty needs to be discharged--phone calls
made, bills paid, or perhaps a fresh
elucidation of Oliver Wendell Holmes' aphorism

"We will twist the tail of the cosmos 'til it squeaks."
But resist these mandates.  Just laugh,
like some Republicans at welfare.

Sit down at your desk.  Whack the pinata of childhood
until something ugly flies out.  If you can't
find a subject, stare out the window.

Wait for an image to announce itself, or the mail-
person, whichever comes first.  Or use
a phrase from another writer's poem to get going.

For example: "The secret is to rise early."
                                                 
 

 

ARTS AND CRAFTS:  A WARNING
 
An instant jumped out of me
as if I were giving birth to time.  I realized
the past was gone and what remained?
Only salvage, a ghost-clutch
of fresh asphalt, steamy after summer rain,
love's jump-start engine, and the coyote's compromise-the look
of a kind dog-who-is-not-a-dog, like a lover I had
who smelled of goodness, who brought loaves
and fishes, change from other countries
that spilled across my dresser,
who decorated me with
silver tracery, but who practiced
the piano on other women,
until my body flayed out and became
a table of musical triads.
I read an article that said once you used
glitter
it lodged in the floorboards, the rugs,
tracked everywhere in the house,
years later you'd still find a tiny skin-glint.
You can never get rid of it.

 

 


SLEEP
 
I wake suddenly from a small red sleep
as if the darkness were oil rising up to my eyes.

I'd give almost anything to go back.
Even dream the one about the lost wallet,

the forgotten locker combination, teeth falling out,--
even the hanged woman, my double,

with her blue sash noose, her Raggedy Ann dress.
Entombed in my bed,

the sheets like marble in moonlight
my rebellious heart beats too fast,

an adolescent fist
dipped in red sealing wax.

I can sleep late, I tell myself,
because I have no children.

Only dust and the sly, early-morning furniture.
I have no husband

but the black mountain from whose shoulders
I can see the river shining like tin.

What kind of offering can I make to you, Sleep?
Haven't I already given you more than I have given anyone?

BORROWED DRESS

 

He left the room, assured of his immortality-- 

or was it just his cologne?

I once wanted his money--not really his money, 

but the freshly minted coins of reason.

His hands smelling like prime numbers. 

I once wanted his swagger, his fame 

but without the dental work. 

I'm reminded that my destiny was 

to stand reflected in the infinity-inducing

 

mirrors with other women in restaurant 

bathrooms who pat their hair, make that little 

moue with their lips;

who return to the tables of men, 

their hands wet, body hairs galvanized 

like filaments of iron. Strange how 

everything is orderly even in dissipation 

when leaves blizzard the pavement. 

I don't see them land but their fall,

the event of it, is still present, almost invisible.