Saturday, August 15, 2009

Wayplace: Take Two

In April, I posted an earlier version of this poem and got some feedback that prompted this revision. The biggest difference, you'll see if you compare the two poems, comes beginning in stanza twelve where I've softened the image of hooking God's bowels from the sign (as in version one) to punctuating the sign, though I've left the type of punctuation ambiguous---period? comma? exclamation point? hyphen? question mark?---implying that this phrase, this choice point, could take me anywhere.

Anyway. Feedback welcome. (And just because this is a later version of the poem, that doesn't mean I've closed the door on revisions. I'm always looking for better ways to say...)

* * * *


at the city’s limit,
straddling the hill
Elder Chris could

barely manage
without getting off
to walk. Not tourist.

Not sea-veined kiwi.
Something between.
Though standing

ten years distant
from this photo, I’d
call you foreign. Alien.

Vagrant from a self
Time surreptitiously
forgot. It’s not

the slacks, the tie,
the shirt sleeves. Not
the name badge, words

white on black on white,
or the bag straps heavy
as a parachute harness

on your shoulders.
Not even your unnatural
lean against the pole’s

lean, legs cropped at
the knee by the photo’s
edge, or the gestures

you’ve twisted around
each hand: right arm
square to the abdomen,

pinkie and thumb hung
loose from your fist,
left hand timid toward

sky, index finger raised,
set to punctuate
the Give Way sign overhead.

But how your smile of a pose
says anything but content.
How your paper-thin passions

betray the burn
of breaking in new skin.
How you eventually

carved “Body + Pushbike”
in the pole then pedaled
after cloudfire

until it seared your veins
like the opening phrase
of apocalypse.