Wednesday, February 09, 2011

NEW! 2 poems by Stephanie Burns

Stephanie Burns


Spring in the Winter Garden

I’ve known you to be cross-eyed for a while now.
Like the flared fat pigeon on its crumbling
headstone, you mix your lefts
and rights until the whole world is less
stable than before. In the shops,
in the malls, they are folding
clothes into shapes that can never
be emulated in real life.
I guess we are all facing south when we die.

There is, ever so slightly, something
to be heard on this balcony.
I’ve watched others writing it down
in complicated twirls and all too ordinary
snapshots. I know that the backs
of their heads want to breathe.
Then again, I am all that strives to be,
but is not, more than too-tight pants
and curled hair.
We are taking notes on each other.

Dear Good Sir—
I am not dangerous. Kindly stop thinking it.
Sincerely yours, etc. etc.

This year we will not smoke in the hallways
or clack in high heels. I am meeting
only people too bored for me.
You have been one of them.

You are letting it be too obvious.
You are staring too much.
You cannot let it be known
that things have gone radio electric
in front of you. Keep a distance
and healthy swagger.

Otherwise, you will glint into the scene
and everything you’ve collected
in a dusty shoebox under a bed
will slip away into trash.
We are only the poses we can commit to being.

Secret doors and miniskirts meet
under your eyes. They rile against
your skin. Toys turn to roses
and sad hands are held.

I know you are hasty and that
you can’t stop actively being pretty.
This is how it all portraits—protests
and steamy hot mornings.

If I become cold or undernourished,
I will know it is because we have built
ourselves this winter garden,
but shattered its glass with our first breaths.

Poem on Talking to You

Out of a cut
in my arm I pull a dove,
a tightrope, a bright red sunset.
My arms are useless in this way.
Their gestures are worthless and awkward—
awkwardness the tragedy hovering over me,
resilient as fruit flies.
I’ve killed the impulse for natural reactions.

Pronunciation slips in and out—
I hardly know what I am saying.
Now in the back of the scene,
I don’t talk. I paint
my face to mean, “Stardust,
appleseed, march hare, revolution.”

The paint chips away
and blankets the area, nearly
as inconsequential as it could have been
in my head.

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