A ditty from a prompt in class this week. “Peas and the rice done, done, done” comes from a song sung by bondmen and women during the age of slavery.
Speckle, spackle lint
Globe, orb, light
Star prick, potato cut – Fie!
Cookie cutter, duster buster —
Done. Peas and the rice,
done, done, done.
In the dark, we tag along in
ignorant clumps. Safety
in numbers? One arm
finds a rail, a toe stubs
rock. “Ho there!”
A single organism, we turn.
Out on the deck early, a
powdery blue sky offers its
solace — beauty
that can be referred to again
and again, lasting and constant.
Except it’s not
lasting. Or constant.
Look how swiftly the clouds
cover the setting and
glorious moon — in the short interval
it took you to dash inside for your camera.
What happens when the shifting
markers of beauty verge
toward extinction, not merely sway
and decay with time?
“Ho! There! Ho!” No one
corrects course. The inevitable crash
sparks discussion, as if pinpointing the
cause of the wound trumps all other action.
In this season of cold, shattered bones and
bruises are nothing next to damnation.
Who knew lying would win
the hearts and minds of so many?
Sprinkle, dash, salt and mire.
Blood stream, character, impossible glow.
Peas and the rice, done, done, done.
Catastrophic, relentless capture
of the future: too swift to
block; too pervasive to illuminate.
It threatens to be so cold, there
The party lanterns bob and strain on the deck
rail, hanging, forgotten, so long
past their June flings. Remember June?
Just above the eave – “Ho! There!”
She runs inside for her camera, but it’s too late. The grey fuzz of
cloud shoved by a cold, cold
wind has changed everything.
She missed the moon
but caught a dream of power — a friend gathering her skirts to make an entrance. Stately. Invested. Prepared. She will
study everything, consider all the
players, account for the force of history. Seventy years of wisdom coming to bear.
Such a dream!
Mighty beech. Singular gate.
Ho there! The icy air seeps
through the window frame.
In the kitchen, you watch the
tiny grain moths zig-zag
against their doom. Slap. Slap.
The dog pants beside the fire.
Dots and dabs of light on the festive tree
blur after you take off your glasses,
offering another version of pretty.
Remember Wallace Stevens
trying to decide which to prefer:
the blackbird’s cry or just after?
As if calibrating how much reality you can stomach is anything like weighing
the relative beauties of music and silence!
We slide into a
Bosch painting – celebrities being eaten by plants,
destroyers appointed to protect, eggs sprouting legs. Babies cry all the way
from Aleppo. We are
cursed and lack the explaining mythology.
Stab, slice, potato cutter — fie!
How quaint a cut to the finger. Apply pressure,
glue and presto — no more blood.
There goes the moon, behind its periwinkle
shroud. Time feels a foe this season.
Arctic air whips up its icy announcements
and someone, somewhere takes it as proof
that everything is as it always was.
Who will measure the cold and with what instruments
after they round up the scientists?
They’ll say: ‘Study moles and circuits. Or lumps of coal.’
“Ho there!” How about darkness? Make
a chart that nobody will believe
and store it somewhere in Canada.
“Ho there! Ho.” We smile and drink. We bundle up. We exchange
sweets and trinkets while frigid air sweeps down from the north.
So, go ahead – dream of power
or dream of extinction. Dream of
capturing the moon with your
bare hands. But when you wake,
with thermal underwear and corrective lenses on, gather your skirts and make an entrance. Somewhere. And speak.
“Ho there. Ho” Peas and the rice
done, done, done.