"My Flannel Civilization" and two more poems
My Flannel Civilization
Through fields of twitching feet,
by streams of cramping calves,
our bassinet lamps leading home—
in all the trees,
mouths opening for thumbs.
We’re taking the layette steps up,
swinging our thick robe door,
padding our slippers across our lint floors
in our rooms with the nightshirt walls,
our roof a sheet snapped,
The people familiar here—
do you? but no, you don’t know them,
each wrapped in a private version.
Here are the fathers, same
but their cries without words.
Here are the mothers, same
close-up lips, but their songs
We’re all wearing hunstman and plaid,
all in sock monkeys,
action figures, flying saucers,
matching sets of planets and cats.
We’re stiff in our sizing, we’re late,
it’s starting, we’re two trains away,
three lakes away, it’s started, we’re late,
riding bikes rippling wheels like fried eggs
to a new place that looks like the old place.
Window of wafting,
window of bear.
This cool breeze, what is it,
winter sweet, and from
where? Softly, softly,
fresh laundered cotton
settles a white
whistling mask on our faces.
Then I Could Sleep
If I were scrap in the scraps, match in the box of matches.
If I were sleeve over sleeve in the washer.
If I were dirt in the dirt.
If I were one among gene-matched tomatoes,
Row in a crate of apples.
If I were, in the lipstick display, the pattern of lipstick end-labels.
If I were an ounce.
If I were wood.
If I were splinter, the ouch,
One o in the whole world’s long ouch.
If I were the road.
If I were postcards, same boring attractions.
If I were where you turn left at the sign, minus the sign.
If I were risen, punched, risen.
Or patted by hand, set hot on the table,
Eaten in less than a minute.
If I were shenanigans, Stop that right now,
If dad were reading, if I were the air
flying up from the pages.
If I were potato.
If I were winter and winter the only season.
If I were, absent a heart, abstraction of heart rate.
If I were dead, and dead
The only state.
Fringy, with hecklers.
Rag of a fortune, crag of a flock.
Pom-poms clocked. Alarming valerian.
Mushmelon, pumpkin, baffle of beams.
Bubbles with their hackles up.
Balloons, so carefully quilted.
Behind the closed sign, calliope pumping.
Snowprints squabbling the clearing.
Said the squirrels, Cannot visit now,
We’re too busy resting.
Said the settee, Cannot pouf, too mousy.
Said the hearthstones, Can’t rock, we’re spinning.
Said Polly, Well, crack my pot.
Answered Bantam, Chipper, chipper.
To every one, her tuffet.
Every way, perfume.