Thursday, February 28, 2008

Five themed poems by Cheryl Hicks

Five poems
by Cherly Hicks
Theme: Pseudo-scientific love poetry


Now I know it wasn’t yours because the house was white and there were doors unlocked and the driveway was so wide but I wanted you there and there you were. Feeling fragile and ungrounded, as imperfect as a mounded fist of suds, I know you held me to the light to let me sparkle, know you kept me from the winds until I could begin to find a stable line between bare fact and flagrant fiction. Where it falls it is impossible to say.

In spite of my nostalgia for imagined paradise I would have been a willing sacrifice without foundation--but I am a beggar, so predictably I want. I dreamed this was a love song universal--still the worse for lack of wear I fear it is impossible to say. I am no princess won. I am a cycle of disparate tales, and so, I’ll have six hundred horsemen with rich gifts. I’ve set my price.



To be aware, to be alive, to have no fear of mystery, these are my desires. Like a scarlet leaf in a busy road, I shiver in the wake of the two-way manufactured breeze and I have learned there is no safety in the middle. No middle way, no middle path, no path of least, no path of least resistance, only this problematic dance always turning me from the place I want to be. I want to be. I want to be this pen, this purple paint, your breath on my mouth… This road, this active voice inside my head is unaware of audience or pacing but I am racing toward resolution, toward the awareness that I am foreign to my self. (If you’ve read this, you may wonder whether I slept well last night, how much I’ve told, whether I drank too much wine, how much I’ve hidden.) When I’m standing still, I’m out of control. When my leg touches yours, a lush heaviness sweeps my frame. Sometimes it is a mystery and sometimes I’m afraid. I’m afraid there is no road, just small trails, small cracks in the earth’s surface…and they look like forsaken river valleys from this height.



I smoke cigars now, but only once a month, and I no longer eat meat at all. I still carry my arousal around like a succulent fruit in a semi-permeable pouch just south of my solar plexus, and I think of you when it rains like it rained today.

I don’t spend much time binding or unbinding my hair, or enough time combing it to cause even a small thunderstorm. Yet I have found myself strangely alone and craving lightning. Your going has left an emptiness in me bigger than my original self and I have denied words until they no longer spill down my arms. I write now in shorthand, disabled and unwilling to transcribe the details.

Let the leaves fall. Let them say she was taken on a Friday, full-faced and plastered on the cover, no sense denying the truth. Let them say she could twirl like a leaf weighted down by her stem. “Did you see how she fell?” Like a soft, Sunday paper, still folded, predetermined as a morning crepe myrtle still loaded with dew. Still looking for wholes, as vulnerable and transparent as a grape, let them say she was seedless, and without wings.



I would take the thickness of an eager kiss, take my heart’s crankshaft clatter and the narrow width of that brilliant flare that flashes between day and night, take the texture of a smooth bright red pencil on a blue-lined yellow pad, make satisfaction, pour it into a white foam cup and drink it just as cool. I would measure your mouth, define immeasurable quantities, like enough and too much, and paint that fascinating fullness in between. I would write of want, and recognition of want, of all the steps from touch to bend, through each retreat, to the surging delight that repeatedly drifts to the side like snow packed on the toe of a booted foot slipping through and through and through picking up frozen residue on the run. And I would not run. I would lie to give you that full feeling, as heavy and sure as a pink hydrangea, as insistent as a swinging noose, but without distrust, without aggression, without that yellow pulling back. These parted lips, this shallow breath, this effortless dispersal toward the gullet—beneath this wanting lies the secret of desire perfected by its lack of rules.



Pointing northwest and northeast, all new timepiece hands are set at ten past ten. (An intentionally supplicating posture based on market research, subliminal message, and the appealing gesture of the raised hands.) In a life filled with such trivial manipulation, some days I am tempted to identify, classify and name all of my demons. Some days you save me. You push against me as gently as a breeze. As surely as the blood thrum that accompanies a potent brew, you coax from me incantations, bright sounds springing from the same root as birdsong, and through mystical language, I am bound to be set free.

When I was a victim of self-forgery, you compelled me to see I could never have been born under the hands of another. When I lost my feathers, you offered music and opened my ears. If I could have brought forth, one by one, all the fish in the sea, I would not have found the magic salmon on my own. In small tribute, I lift my hands, I touch your mouth, for to dive into such honey, is to be born into sweetness, pure sunlight again & again.

Author bio:

Cherly Hicks has had prose published in The First Line, Crate, Halfway Down the Stairs, and Southern Hum. One of her memoirs is to be included in The Remembrance Project at Howard University. Her poems have been published in Ginosko, Eskimo Pie, Urban Spaghetti, Blue Fifth Review, Heliotrope, Makar, Snakeskin, Her Circle, Creative Soup, The Orphan Leaf Review, the delinquent, Autumn Sky Poetry, Silent Actor, Avatar Review, Word Riot, Halfway Down the Stairs, Monkey Kettle, and 103: The Journal of the Image Warehouse. Cheryl has been a featured poet at C/Oasis, and a previous recipient of the Paddock Poetry Award. She also presented poems from her series titled "Conversations with the Virgin" at the 2006 Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association Conference in Tucson, Arizona. Also a visual artist, Cheryl currently teaches photography and creative writing at the secondary level.

Editor's note:

"Acts of God" was previously published in Urban Spaghetti.

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