Poem on the Road to Depose
is a sack of black spoons,
and my dreams
steal from me.
are full of bite marks --
a wet cashew.
The lights outside Milwaukee falter.
Good morning, corpse candles.
I've come zealously to represent
sleeplessness and must not listen
to the click
of the black spoons.
and the long gray bone
of the sky,
I am limb-caught
by the monstrous
laws of the dead.
Red Brick Hungry
The house fell out of the woods full-grown,
and we moved in, removing
the plastic fountain of angels bubbling,
pudgy in the foyer.
Squirrels in the walls all winter,
corn smut on the screens in late summer,
and the baby sick for months Ė
yellow and thin Ė the father weeping,
all of us bending
in that impossible shadow.
I am loyal to my gut
which is a red brick, hungry
for more mud and sun,
which is to say,
The pale knife
of a mantis clings
to the precise wall of our house.
It tries to stay cool, do some good,
or just keep quiet.
The baby lives.
I prop her against
the headboard to read
how Laura Ingalls twists hay
in the barn with Pa,
Louis Barnavelt solves the mystery
of the clock in the walls,
and Anne of Green Gables
When no one is looking,
I feed her
bits of cupcake
with money stolen
from the fatherís wallet.
Still, she sleeps too much --
her skin alarms me
into not looking.
a truck pulls up
and drives off
the little things:
books and silver,
to the salt lick
in the woods
At dark, it shrieks white
as a crazy womanís nightdress.
Res ipsa loquitor: The thing speaks for itself.
I will grow to study justice. The thorn of myself,
the thing in the foot. I will rent air in old rooms
and curl against the wall, hungry. Some knife.
I was in love
with the World Book, proud of chimneys
in pictures of Dresden and London --
rubble and the survivors --
the towns full of middle fingers,
each a brick
drained of red.
I name them:
In Chicago red brick
is everywhere and car alarms,
broken bottles, ice.
I call my sister to ask
the names of shells and insects
and if she remembers
the quiet of the woods at night.
I read by flashlight,
she slept with fingers
in her mouth.
I learn many things
in law school:
of bad faith, anti-trust,
How to estimate
that the liquid form of brick
is not blood
but jug wine.
I live in old buildings
with old women who show me
their paper doll arms. I tell them
pigeons sit on the window unit
and fill my room with low sounds Ė
a terrible loudness of sleeping too much.
a truck pulls up
a load of bricks in the alley.
when it snows:
the bricks covered over
show red in spots
like a pile of bodies, shot.
Slip & Fall
To guard against it, the grocery stores
put plastic mats in the produce aisles
with holes the approximate size and shape
of the typical grape. Iím talking about liability.
Iím talking about avoiding the awful snap
of collar bone on linoleum, the shatter
of graham crackers and bifocal glasses.
Iíve been concerned about the birds I cut
from construction paper that never looked
like birds but anvils or trowels. Anyway
they did the job. Fewer bloody splotches
against the glass, fewer reasons to feel guilty
for getting in the way of hunger and abject
joy. Iíve been lost in the oil slick
of a juncoís wing. Iím dark and sticky with it,
but regardless, all day Iíve been singing a poem
about travelling, singing even as I reach
for the phone to talk about insurance
and plausible options, singing even though
everything I dream these nights is forests
and hands and bones, and the winter rattles me.
Itís a song about the end of caution --
an onyx pendant slipping from my neck
that glistens like the supermarketís asphalt
where gulls are painted to ward off a mess.
But harm is not worth avoiding if the cure
is smallness . . I wheel gladly beyond it
to the hole in the sky where birds are spiraling.
Some Other Morning
Sometimes I make nooses
of stir sticks, scale the masts
of ships on sugar packets,
and imagine Louisiana factories
where Tabasco bubbles
in steel vats. I wonít watch
berries between his fingers,
the syrup lifted, poured, exquisite,
or the soft give of a griddle cake
beneath the fork because I know
if it werenít for this delight,
Iíd want some other morning,
some other diner, without him.
I think of old freezers at the dump,
how kids play in them, and the law
calls this an attractive nuisance,
requires signs, barbed fences, prudence.
I canít say Iíve even tried to be careful
or fair --when I pop the seal
on a little cup of half-and-half,
Rachel Flynnís work has recently appeared in River City,
Rhino, and Cold Mountain Review and on
PublishingOnline. She recently received her MFA from Warren
Wilson College and is a corporate lawyer for a company outside of