Sunday, January 8, 2012

I'd seen airplanes up in the air (Month of Poetry #8)

Kept an eye on the eaves through a crack in the venetians
we knew the undersides should be golden before we
stripped up the shades to face the afternoon light.
We peered into that blinding slit of summer, white
as royal icing, white as the middle of the pink tablets
that mostly kept me from going crazy.
Crisped-up Christmas trees blew up the street
first abandoned singly, then wedded into pairs:
dry needles matted together like veins and syringes.

Across the street, we called it the 'lamp house':
bare bulbs swung on frayed cords but behind
one spat and grubby window bloomed a fringed
and tasselled shade, supported by a brassy naked woman.
When January fury warmed to dusk and the lamp house
(crack house) shouts of 'Fucking mother FUCKER!'
slowed to intermittent we knew (in the same way
you know microwave popcorn is ready) we could
let the dregs of daylight in our balcony door.

Last year in a charred and broken February,
fire broke out, skipped parole and pleasured
up our street like a tongue. It tickled our eaves
a different golden hue and slopped across the road
to slaver five houses flat. In the soggy morning after,
a bunch of regulars worried the footpath grey:
to their relief, the lamp house survived.
We didn't mind the daily swearing or sirens,
they never gave us any trouble (or any crack).

Summer pills made my head heavy with sanity.
It is easy to be crazy, full of glory and forget
and brilliant white wings of time. I wore out
three pairs of winter shoes in places I had never
put down rubber or my face in sleep before.
But no one trusts you if you never get tired,
and a back corner of your brain mistrusts yourself.
So milligram by milligram I weighed my thoughts in place
until I grew too jealous of the undrugged morning light.

You said to me at night: 'You're a funny one.'
I never wanted to be a comedian.
You'd think I'd never been outside after dawn in
all my life. I'd seen airplanes up in the air, new year
babies with slim legs lotus-pale against the glare.
In dread of another chemical day, I said to you:
'I will go to sleep.' In the sun, those prescription days
were overfocused and full of sharp edges.
I saw too much of everything. It hurt, I had to close my eyes.


Today's poem is based on suggestions from six people:

@_boobook_: "I will go to sleep in the sun" (Roald Dahl, Death of an Old Man)
@timsterne: "Fucking motherFUCKER!" (Tony O'Neill, Sick City)
@ernmalleyscat: "The undersides should be golden" (Jamie Oliver, 30 Minute Meals)
@eglantinescake: "To their relief, the lamp house survived" (H.O.U.S.E.: Habitable Objects Unique Spatial Extraordinary)
@gretapunch: "All my life I'd seen airplanes up in the air" (Justin Bieber, First Step 2 Forever)
@matchtrick: "I never wanted to be a comedian" (Stewart Lee, How I Escaped My Certain Fate: The Life and Deaths of a Stand-Up Comedian)

What's a lamp house? I have no idea. So I made one up.


Penni Russon said...

Wow, I love this, the narrative is compelling and unsettling and vivid.

Cameron Mann said...

This is the best thing I've ever read on my phone. The kind of thing that makes me think it's not all vacuous and evil.

AND we have another three weeks of this! Hooray for Poems By Request, Hooray for #MoP12 and Hooray for you, ARP.

Anna said...

Thanks Penni and Cam! *goes all blushy*

hwc said...

I saw a christmas tree recycling bin (skip?) in paris - so I took a photo for you!