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Akinlabi Peter
Amanda Sington-Williams
A M Gatward
Ayat Ghanem
Bobby Parker
Chuma Nwokolo, Jr.
Dike Okoro
E C Osondu
Katie Metcalfe
Laura Solomon
Mandy Pannett
Michael Larrain
Oge Anyahuru
Terri Ochiagha
Uzor Maxim Uzoatu

 

poetry


Six Poems for my Daughter

By MICHAEL LARRAIN

 

Peace

for Wilder Kathleen

 

God falls asleep in your sleep

and dreams the day that got away

This is how planets flirt with one another

Here we call it spring

and live on the edge 

of the slowest exaltation

The sun comes out

when the dead check their mail

and a petal torn in half

leaves a white line

where the sea used to be

You may feel for a moment

as silvery-green 

as a freshly watered plant

and then so tired and so clean

that you can touch

whatever you imagine

Now there's only one heartbeat

between any two stars

Peace

 

Skip To Ma Loo, My Darling

 for Wilder Kathleen

 

When you are especially sad

you know what I mean

the times of deep sorrow visiting you

nothing clinical or jargon-riddled

but plain old bluesy because everything 

is waving goodbye so slowly it's as though

the wind in the trees has your number

please remember you are

nearer to me than my own heart

and when my head has exploded

from too much of whatever

I should have known better than

to have done instead of swinging

you up onto my shoulders

we will not stop being together

we'll be old starlight

the quietest wild laughter ever

 

Better Still

for Wilder Kathleen, in autumn

 

The world is a very confusing shirt

We wear it

when we don't know

what else to wear

Misbuttoning rivers with eyebrows

candle-light with cross-country drives

One arm-hole's an escape route

God cannot even breathe out of the other

But there's plenty of Heaven to go around

as close as the smells from the kitchen

The stars are making out in old cars

You can foretell the future 

after dreaming in black and white

and if your write your name

in the steam from your bath

falling leaves will uncouple

our paths from our pursuers

Better still

was the first time 

you toddled up to me and said

How ya doin', daddy?

and I came truer than the arrow

hurrying toward my throat in the dark

 

Better Still

for Wilder Kathleen, in autumn

 

The world is a very confusing shirt

We wear it

when we don't know

what else to wear

Misbuttoning rivers with eyebrows

candle-light with cross-country drives

One arm-hole's an escape route

God cannot even breathe out of the other

But there's plenty of Heaven to go around

as close as the smells from the kitchen

The stars are making out in old cars

You can foretell the future 

after dreaming in black and white

and if your write your name

in the steam from your bath

falling leaves will uncouple

our paths from our pursuers

Better still

was the first time 

you toddled up to me and said

How ya doin', daddy?

and I came truer than the arrow

hurrying toward my throat in the dark

 

Stories

for Wilder Kathleen

 

My hands are so old these days

older than my own father's hands

older and wiser than the eyes

of god's bartender

But my hands have touched 

your mother's face

cradled her sweet waist

and rubbed her feet at night

So they have stories to tell

When memories are all that's left

my hands will be a land of plenty

Holding her

I've grown secretly engaged

to all the objects in my sleep

I can stop without stopping

I can even banish absence if I wish

And now there's you

whose long elegant fingers

already fluent in adventure

fasten onto the world with care

So many things to be picked up

and the delicate business 

of setting them down

before you can leap out at me 

from cupboards and bedclothes

screaming with such savage joy

I have to raise you toward the sky

My hands are so new these days

 

Some Detectives

for Wilder Kathleen, watching Martin Scorsese's Shine a Light

 

Your mother came to me 

with the lingeringest of lips

Half-thoughtful and half-wild

A girl who liked to tango with the tides

When she awakened she remembered almost everything

The slow velvet lingerie of moss 

pleasuring the branches of a tree

The giggle of water when a fish goes by

Wine putting roots down in music

But there was a single blind spot in her sleep

She didn't know where to find you

She let me stay close to her

as long as I agreed to help her look

Actually

I thought she was helping me

I too had been seeking you

ever since my earliest days

Seen your face reflected in a raindrop

on a petal but when I looked again

the depths of a rose returned the world to me

dazzling but impoverished

Heard your voice but couldn't get that station back

though I twirled the dial until it broke off in my fingers

Neither of us dared leave the other alone

for fear they would discover you and vanish

So we kept each other within arm's reach

Dancing and searching the dark places

We developed elaborate codes

Fell in with criminals

Followed the instructions of train smoke

Arranged rendezvous at the crossroads

We stole the identities of our own dice

after rubbing them against ancient movie stars for luck

We looked beyond life and outside of time

Life was of no consequence

except as a place to play

But a map whose folds are in two worlds at once

can be hard to read

There were quarrels between us, wars, ambushes, double-crosses, dog-fights

We kept dancing

Sometimes

when our leads had dried up

and our hunches got us nowhere

I'd get tired of looking

Your features had grown indistinct

I could barely make them out in a turning leaf

Your voice

threaded through the surf

I mistook for summer lightning

But your mother always knew

you were headed our way

Nearer each day the farther

she opened her hope of you

A terrifying hope that scalded my eyes

A hope I could not hope to equal

Looking was how she waited

I see that now

It's better when you move

and dancing was her way of saying

The darkness is made of singers

who cannot tell water from love

So your mother danced

indefatigably

and I held on for dear life

By now

the day we found you was years ago

And watching you dance

in front of the television to the Rolling Stones

it finally occurs to me

that you were always dancing with us

Waiting and looking in two worlds at once

I saw your mother make these steps

and thought she was whiling away the time

But the two of you were whiling it into being

Some detectives we turned out to be

 

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MICHAEL LARRAIN was born in Los Angeles in 1947. He is the author of three collections of poems: The Promises Kept in Sleep, Just One Drink for the Diamond Cutter and For One Moment There Was No Queen. Rainy Day Women Press of Willits, CA, has recently released a CD of his reading of selected love poems called Lipstick: A Catalogue for Continuous Undressing. His novels are South of The North Star, Movies on the Sails, and As the Case May Be.


 


 

 

 

 

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