Friday, August 1, 2008

January O’Neil

Funny Poem

This is a funny poem. It is also polite—
it’s pleased to make your acquaintance.
It stands alone in that it likes to be petted,
held, taken out for a walk, scratched behind
the ears, and enjoys the occasional hearty chortle.
This poem is not afraid to mention random
funny things like bananas, ponies,
feet, flan, unicorns, or Britney Spears.
This poem was funny when funny wasn't cool.
It revels in its difference, it likes that
it’s not your standard free verse,
formal, confessional, or sad bastard poem.
This poem has always wanted to use the word
boomerang. If you say to it, “A man walks
down the street with a duck under its arm,”
it will feign amusement because it’s heard
that one before, and come back to you with,
“What do you call a boomerang that doesn’t come back?
A stick.” This poem is proud of itself
for working in that joke. If this poem
made you smile at all, it will say, “mission
accomplished,” and mean it in a good way

My Body After Kids

Sags everywhere.
Looks like a chicken
in a butcher’s storefront.
Wet tea bags for breasts,
oatmeal for thighs, as if
my old self was recalled
and I was given this.
See how my body
redistributes itself
cell by cell by cell
into a new circumference,
almost global? My hands
once bright as fans
used to envelop the dusk
and twirl in dance. Now they
belong to a shape shifter—
someone called out of one world
and thrown into another.


After the accident, strangers hurry past
as we pull into the median to check for dents.
Our car armor, polished yet worn,
is now streaked with damage. We dig
in our purses, find proof of existence,
although we're not really sure what that means.
Already the day feels old in its caustic
morning thrum. Every five minutes
an accident occurs—bumper to bumper
in the stop-start lingo of the highway.
We are made vulnerable by the April exhaust,
just one more thing that makes this life heavy.
Makes me think our days are marked with bulleyes
on the backs of cars, how a crack in the road
veers us toward the crack in everything. What else
can we do but shake hands and strap ourselves
back in? My car rattles like bones in the trunk.

The Wilting

Sometimes at nightI rise from bed
to look at my dark skin.
I make sure I can still see
my mother’s red clayand my father’s kudzu
growing around
these roadside eyes,
a vista that fades
with each passing season.
The two noses I carry
come together as a hill
on a ruddy landscape.
In the soil of my flesh
once grew dogwood
and crepe myrtle—
the harvest of where I came.
How lucky I am
to witness this wilting,
night after night,
as field returns to field.


The camera loves us,
it bravely looks us in the eyes,
does its best to defend us from light
and dark, though it seekswhat is not there.
If I turn my head,
bring my face my husband’s
there is always contrast.
See my husband’s slight smile?
He is light bouncing off of light
that I absorb. The camera
has a dumb eye, makes me glow
in the noonday sun.

1 comment:

Rethabile said...

January confirms what I already know. Didn't know some of these.