weekly verse: AE Stallings

StallingsAE.jpg Another week went by without any verse on this blog, and April is National Poetry Month, and my favourite living poet AE Stallings has a new book out — so without further ado, enjoy:

Variations on an old standard
Come let us kiss. This cannot last—
Too late is on its way too soon—
And we are going nowhere fast.
Already it is after noon,
That momentary palindrome.
The mid-day hours start to swoon—
Around the corner lurks the gloam.
The sun flies at half-mast, and flags.
The color guard of bees heads home,
Whizzing by in zigs and zags,
Weighed down by the dusty gold
They’ve hoarded in their saddlebags,
All the summer they can hold.
It is too late to be too shy:
The Present tenses, starts to scold—
Tomorrow has no alibi,
And hides its far side like the moon.
The bats inebriate the sky,
And now mosquitoes start to tune
Their tiny violins. I see,
Rising like a grey balloon,
The head that does not look at me,
And in its face, the shadow cast,
The Sea they call Tranquility—
Dry and desolate and vast,
Where all passions flow at last.
Come let us kiss. It’s after noon,
And we are going nowhere fast.

Late at night,
One of us sometimes has said,
Watching a movie in black and white,
Of the vivid figures quick upon the screen,
“Surely by now all of them are dead”—
The yapping, wire-haired terrier, of course—
And the patient horse
Soaked in an illusion of London rain,
The Scotland Yard inspector at the scene,
The extras—faces in the crowd, the sailors;
The bungling blackmailers,
The kidnapped girl’s parents, reunited again
With their one and only joy, lisping in tones antique
As that style of pouting Cupid’s bow
Or those plucked eyebrows, arched to the height of chic.
Ignorant of so many things we know,
How they seem innocent, and yet they too
Possess a knowledge that they cannot give,
The grainy screen a kind of sieve
That holds some things, but lets some things slip through
With the current’s rush and swirl.
We wonder briefly only about the girl—
How old—seven, twelve—it isn’t clear—
Perhaps she’s still alive
Watching this somewhere at eighty-five,
The only one who knows, though we might guess,
What the kidnapper whispers in her ear,
Or the color of her dress.

What butterfly—
Brain, soul, or both—
Unfurls here, pallid
As a moth?
(Listen, here’s
Another ticker,
Counting under
Mine, and quicker.)
In this cave
What flickers fall,
On the wall?
Spine like beads
Strung on a wire,
Of our desire,
Moon-face where
Two shadows rhyme,
Two moving hands
That tell the time.
I am the room
The future owns,
The darkness where
It grows its bones.

Those are all available online via the poet’s own site, and all are from her new book, Hapax, as is the author photograph.