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December 2005, #12                   
 

 

Poetry__________________________________________                                   
Al Zolynas                                                      
   
 
 
         

UNDER IDEAL CONDITIONS

say in the flattest part of North Dakota
on a starless moonless night
no breath of wind

a man could light a candle
then walk away
every now and then
he could turn and see
the candle burning

seventeen miles later
provided conditions remained ideal
he could still see the flame

somewhere between the seventeenth and eighteenth mile
he would lose the light

if he were walking backwards
he would know the exact moment
when he lost the flame

he could step forward and find it again
back and forth
dark to light light to dark

what's the place where the light disappears?
where the light reappears?
don't tell me about photons
and eyeballs
reflection and refraction
don't tell me about one hundred and eighty-six thousand
miles per second and the theory of relativity

all I know is that place
where the light appears and disappears
that's the place where we live

DREAM OF THE SPLIT MAN

A child-woman
with fine black hair on her arms
operates in your split chest.
Open-heart surgery.
For some reason, she inspires
total confidence.

She reaches in with both hands,
lifts your heart gently.
"Look behind," she whispers.
"There's a blocked vein,
the vein that leads to your right arm."

Immediately, your sword arm
goes numb.
Your trigger finger,
your writing hand, your
hiking thumb, your palm
with its diagram of what you've made
of your life,
your fingers that play
the piano's high notes
(and a woman's)
go numb.
The hand you shake with,
stifle yawns with, serve with, comb
your hair with, shave,
pick, manipulate the world with,
stiffens by your side.

But it's all right, somehow.
All these years, your left hand, modest
but sinister accompanist,
has seen itself in the mirror
grown stronger.
Even now, clenching
and unclenching, it is learning
the ways of a fist.

TWO CHILDHOOD MEMORIES

I remember my first gun
and my first tangerine.
My father said never
point a gun at a live thing.
I was five and it was my first
gun and besides it was a toy.
I was five and I knew that.
So, I pointed the gun
at my father, at my mother.
It was a big black gun
and it wobbled a lot.
When I pulled the trigger
it went "click,"
and I think my father died.
What I remember about the tangerine
is how easily the skin came off.

A MEDICAL FACT

At the precise moment of death
the pupil of the eye
opens its widest.

The white lights in ceilings,
the moon, sun
stars, comets, nebulae,
the great band of the Milky Way--
all fall into the brain.

There are no lights
too bright for the dying.

RUNNING DOWN SUMMIT AVENUE IN SAINT PAUL IN A HEAVY SNOWFALL

Fat flakes of snow explode in my eyes.
Zero visibility,
the airport or weather bureau would say.

The world is a block long
and I am running in that world
past the ghostly houses of the rich.

Traffic lights appear,
catching and releasing phantom traffic.
I violate a red light.

Above me, the trees make a cathedral.
The altar is miles away.

I could run forever.
                                                                                                  

                                                                   ©A.Zolynas              
   

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