Drop by Drop

people in rainThis week I received a copy of the literary magazine Kenyon Review in the mail. Apparently at some point I entered a contest with them, which I paid for, and my consolation for the usual result (I lose) was a few copies of the magazine. Because I barely find time to read novels, I don’t normally read the magazines, but this time I read a bit, and among my browsing I started a poem.

Maybe I could have tried harder. I read a page—and pardon me if I think I’m not a stupid reader—but after a page I thought “what the fuck is this about?” Like so much modern poetry that I’ve read, it seemed like it was supposed to mean something, only I was too dumb to understand it. So I stopped reading.

Will it seem irritating to you, or even obnoxious, when I post a poem below that exceeds reality? The difference, I believe, is that in this case, when the poem seems strange and surrealistic, it’s supposed to. That’s it. Don’t try to make more of it. Think of it as reading a kaleidoscope. Think of it as eating a bowl of dictionary while stoned.

Waiting For Rain

She stands on the tide as it rolls,
her hair full of sparks from a storm.
She was born as a child of warm soil,
yet she feels more at home in cold water.
The bright smile she shows me at noon
seemed cryptic that morning in mist.

She seems to remember the stories
of babies who wake up their mothers
with whispers about other worlds,
where you almost know something is real.
Some things she secretly writes down,
hoping that angels will read it,
waiting to hear their sad sighs.

She won’t speak unless the rain falls.
Then her voice is like silver and gin.
I’m putting out buckets and waiting for rain.
There’s things I don’t know
and things to be gained.

The smell of cinnamon hurts her eyes,
and diamonds make her weak.
When I tell her how lovely she sounds,
she shows me the knife in her boot,
but unlike the knife in my pocket,
hers only cuts in the dark.

She has a jar of buttons
from clothing she wore in the sun.
She takes out the buttons at night
and holds them a while in the dark,
while she sits naked and shivering.
The buttons are shaped like the future,
and she squeezes them tight in her fist.

She won’t speak unless the rain falls.
Then her voice is like silver and gin.
I’m putting out buckets and begging for rain.
There’s things I don’t know
And things to be gained.

She’s helpful and lovely and wise,
except for the odd-numbered days
when she sulks about cars that are green.
She’s wild and she’s free and she’s absent.
I’ve learned not to question those moods.
She watches the water with interest,
and sometimes she looks at the boat.

I’ve collected the buckets,
I’m waiting for rain.
There’s things I don’t know
And much to be gained.

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Filed under Not Real Poetry

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