Belle Laide, a poetry collection by Joanne Dwyer (poetry, ’09) is now available from Sarabande Books.
ARS POETICA, OR-KEEPER-OF-THE-WATER
First my father Killing Me Softly with his Roberta Flack album.
Then my son Killing Me Softly with his Fugees CD.
On my shoulder a carcinoma that will eventually kill me –
will eat my flesh, as I eat yours.
I bit hard, sucked hard, not to mark you as my possession
as the rancher burns his ranch insignia into young calves –
but to try and ingest, to take in
that which cannot be eaten.
Outside my window the tiny clawed feet of birds
slip on the ice in the cement birdbath
like the elderly couple who have not skated in half a century.
The birds peck and peck, but the ice remains
an impenetrable obstacle to thirst.
I can see why lovers commit suicide together.
And why you enter me with such abandon –
a blind man’s stick tap, tapping
resolved to the knowledge that death is always
only a foot in front of him. At any moment
the cane may fail him and he may fall
into the deepest, blackest well.
Excuse me un momentito, while I boil
water to pour on the ice. Bullshit!
you’re not going to take time to boil water
when it scalds right from the tap.
I admire the couple for strapping
on those blades after all these years.
At least they have each other to hold onto.
And one can always drive the other to the hospital.
I feel like Charles Bukowski,
I eat small pork sausages with my hands,
wipe the grease on my pajamas
and speak about the opposite sex with scorn.
Though I doubt I’ll ever be able to bare my soul
as fearlessly as he. Blame it on
lights-out love songs, paralytic poisons,
and the distraction of hundreds of birds
outside my window –
and my full time obsession
as keeper of their water.