Monday, June 1, 2009

James Brock

The Little Gershwin

Purple everything
on stage, except for the blue
spotlight on the bare
chair,and the woman
and the man who dance.
They are waves.
They are lovers.
They are waves.
And every light is purple,
silvering blue upon them,
except her arms
that are brown
and her hands
that are brown
and that cup the air
with such weight.

At the dance's end
I ask you, "Was
that really you?"
"Yes," you say,
and your hands
and their fluencies
bring me to you,
and your hands
fan and glide
over my back.
I am growing

Christmas Eve

Ten degrees and dark afternoon,
and you go outside into the Jeep
to rehearse your song for the reunion.
All I can see is you huddled over
the car stereo, adjusting the volume,
pushing back the seat. All I guess
is that it must be "The Christmas
Song," something older than we,i
n a brassy timber. I lean
to the kitchen window and tap
silently against the shouldering
clear of this night. When youh
it the lower registers, I swear
I feel the window vibrate,
the wind throwing its ice
upon the glass. When you come
in, I know better than to ask
how it went, but still when I kiss
you, I touch your face, run
my fingers soft over the pulsing
warmth of your throat, and you
catch me wanting, in that old,
male way, wanting to know, and
you say, "It's a gift, you know.
That's all. Something you wait for."

-both poems previously published at Southern Ocean Review

How The Trouble Starts

Laurel and Hardy carry an upright piano
through the streets of New York, American
mongrels nipping at them, avoiding street
vendors and cops, passing between
horse carts and trolley cars and model A’s,
across the Brooklyn bridge, down to the harbor
and its fish markets and teamsters, finding their way
up a ramp and onto a freighter,
across the Atlantic, making their
way through the lower decks and
cargo holdings, through cattle and farm
machinery, until they reach the upper
deck, rollicking with the waves, as a sailor
pecks “Daisy” on the piano, while
Laurel and Hardy keep their grip of it, as the
freighter passes through the Straits
of Gibraltar, and deep into the Mediterranean,
and then marching off the ship onto some sunny
Italian port, winnowing between fat men and women
selling bread and pasta, children playing soccer,
with Florentine dogs nipping at them,
through the southern Alps and onto
the roads of a snowy Tyrolean village, amid
goats and men in lederhosen dallying
about, a small oom-pah band, all brass and
drum, shadowing them, as a pretty Swiss Miss,
all blonde and busom, plays a little
Für Elise on the piano, and then
quickly up the Matterhorn, thousands of feet
above some Alpine field, dotted with
chalets and sheep, to a wooden bridge,
suspended all the way to Mount Blanc, with
missing and broken planks, fray
edropes, but they don’t miss a step.
Mid-way on the bridge is a gorilla.

-poem previously published at MiPoesias Magazine

Postcard II: Palmetto and Pine

Wasn’t scrub once a word for money? And
Florida thick with scrub: palmetto
and slash pine, as hardscrabble as any
Joshua Tree, and with the plainest qualities:
robust against infestation, only wanting
fire to regenerate, good enough for
pioneers and saints, for your attention. J.

-poem previously published in Story South


My child, in his room, is playing,
and I cannot tell whether he
is laughing or crying, but I will
not stir from my reading, for his joy,
as I imagine, over the leaves
of sycamore we found is his own,
and if his noise is the child's
grief, that, too, is his own. To be
truthful, I am afraid that I can
no longer restore comfort out of pain.
Still, I know I will seek in the broad
ways whom my soul loves, and I
retrieve one trick I learned young,
so that I do rise and go. I mix
sugar milk and take paper and matches
into his room. Here, I tell him,
I have something to show you. With
the liquid, he traces circles
with his finger upon the paper, and I
lay my hand over his hand, to feel
the movement of what he has in mind.
The circles, I think, become smoother,
rounder, smaller. I say, Okay,
let's let the paper dry, and
I return to my reading, and he
to his quieter play. And it is fear
again: how a father dreams of
the drowning child he can never save,
the child's face disappearing
in a swallow of silt, how a father
plays with combustible materials
and their traces - fire and ash - that
will leave nothing but the child's
tiny bones. It is fear because I know
my son will come to me, asking
if it is ready, and I will have
to say yes. I will light the match
beneath the paper, and from nothing
will appear maybe something like a face,
something like my own face,
fevered, blistered, blackening faster
than the paper, or the design becomes
my child's face in a cry or a laugh,
calling out someone else's name.

-poem taken from his book, Nearly Florida 

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