ditch,

the poetry that matters

Maureen Alsop

Maureen Alsop, Ph.D. is the author of, Mantic (Augury Books), Apparition Wren (Main Street Rag), and several chapbooks, most recently a blade of grass made bare by its own anatomy (Blue Hour Press), Luminal Equation in the collection Narwhal (Cannibal Press), the dream and the dream you spoke (Spire Press), and 12 Greatest Hits (Pudding House, pending). Additional chapbooks include Nightingale Habit (Finishing Line Press) and Origin of Stone.

She is the winner of Harpur Palate's Milton Kessler Memorial Prize for Poetry and The Bitter Oleander’s Frances Locke Memorial Poetry Award. 
Her recent poems have appeared in various journals including The Laurel Review, AGNI, Blackbird, Tampa Review, Action Yes, Drunken Boat, and The Kenyon Review
Her translations of the poetry of Juana de Ibarbourou (Uruguay, 1892-1979) and Mario Domínguez Parra are available or forthcoming with Poetry Salzburg Review.
Maureen is an associate poetry editor for the online journal Poemeleon and Inlandia: A Literary Journal. She presently leads a creative writing workshop for the Inlandia Institute, the Riverside Art Museum, and The Rooster Moans.

 

Calculation, Blossom


 
At night the lovers repeated their wounds, a sullied praxis—
their voices were spaces among elder trees.  Seed’s withered
surfaces as dusk. And you had given yourself 

eternities minute sleep--


You answer             your answer.
 
But these were impervious accounts, patterns
wound upon maps.  I cannot love the shave light
balances as sycamore, but so often
I have loved the release heard
within each phrase of the body, immaterial, oracular.
 
I would not fault you

your fears.
 
Even now, unevenly I grope the mirror; what told

the mirror tells spirit. Feverish I open
into you, thus the sky is a kind of medicine. I could not love less
the air which evokes your image. 
 
 

Alcove
 
Snow lacerates the valley. Meaning there is no disrespect
for transition—flakes puncturing the dry edge of your bootstep. This
reminds me. Your breath’s stitchery, gray
needle in unclenched motion, translucent
            chlorine-scented hospital linoleum where
itinerants do not regret a plasticized sensibility. O, synthetic semi-silver—
the beholden rub no wound. Meanwhile
                                                            I have no identity
            and do not remember if remembering
is the response required for this particular century.  Coins
            spill my pocketbook as constellation, the practical application
of language—it made of me                         a success
            for I can roam the dark with grave bravado. But do I really believe
this room as a prairie of indefinite beginnings?    I judge
the striation’s trail as a casket of tiny bellflower blossoms.

 
 
 
 
Further
Your face, a flame’s reflection splashed upon windshield,           
 exaggerates the streetlight’s electrified husk            
as honey-colored sparrows dip beneath my skin.  I place your heart inside the sun.
Last I am by blood. Dust through the white door you exit. 
 
In the cemetery the orioles hid in the leaves, my cotton dress tore at the hem. A silvery pallor—
autumn among elms.             Like a tune in my head, you go on speaking. I believe you said, creidim
 
When one listens, one hears sea.  Later
I visited a seashore            the old house. The house said
nothing is light which was season          you said I said          I walked toward your edges
 
nothing said
the edges.             Loudness applied the sea.  Each in our shadows    exposed by current.
 
It is a question of how the dead evolve.  Their blanched hair, a wavering
blizzard looms the air as pink snowfall.   Who knows enough                         knows the dank under 
                                 wing of the gull—
What comes into the room            Why do you not ask my name                        So, what then
 
Deities walked toward me through the grass.  I was an outsider.  I believe /I recognized her.  She was a small figure holding a lily in her left hand—-- the deacon’s blue dress brushed her ankles. Éalaim, I escape, she said.  Geallaim, I promise.
 
 
 
 
Plexiglass
 
Grief’s bony arms ferry me from island ~ mainland ~ island. I told you my ashes spread under ocean, pine. Love’s merit evokes this trust. But this is when me and my love walked on shore. Oh again. If we speak all at once not much goes from the mouth. I miss the instant coffee on the ship, sweet elide, burnt salt water; I find less distraction, less the ready read waves uneven page.
 
*
 
In the endnote I said I would not name you. I spoke wrongly. Profane, I love wrongly. And I was not named by love. Nor the song in you.
 
 *
 
One by one the ash tree’s song came to me. Lights rolling through arteries past concrete yards, stars undone beyond an arctic cerulean. Sleep’s affections raised distal proposals of longing. It was a question of guilt. The dim mire dreams leave. Carnations bloomed all across my torso, fire hidden blossoms. She arose from my sleep like rising from a secret. Loving me more closely. The salt her shadow stitched brightly along my ribs—a burning so that you (reader) must close your eyes. A series of arrows in her wake, so close.
 
 *
 
My imagination blathered against both wound and reconciliation.
 
 
 
 
 
Iceland Spar
 
The death of the wagtails at mid-day made broad echoes, late
like waves. My home has no interior rooms, no hallway, nor meadow. So
 
soldiers climbed out the window’s of my body-shadow
and from summer cave’s maddened-shade
I made correspondence. 
 
Buzzing forms took circumstance.
I kept the winding.            I made ways
            for happenstance, and I have what loved
                                    shaped steady—
 
At night I am open             deepening
walls of birds against trip-wire are my
insomnia’s fuck series
                        which lays in the waters bedrock. Three-legged horses
 sweat blaze shapes of fire like gifts. Hope
you haven’t suffered any.
 

Medicinal

 The messengers dedicated our final preparations; ointment,
human wishes, etched
                        upon collarbone.  Edgeless air shimmered.  You
            would breath it up.
 
Quietly the nightbed was measured
                                                for an exquisite silk.  Shouldn’t
                                                                                                everything mend? 
 
We told stories inside out            journey’s warming song            a dome of ice
in the sky was a substitute
            for the heart.  Deep sun on rock.
 
Inside the snow my loveliness remembered north.  The meadow
 
unfolded lapis roads, impassible by car or caravan. We fell into our own pockets
as aqua winged birds pooled winter windows.                         Mary, after voices singing, belied
 
mercy.                                    The messengers would almost help.  Already you could turn
and take the wonder as the astrologer’s creatures,
                                    beautifully muscled in compass and ukulele,
                                                            ran past to die.  We believed our last words
were banded agate, larkspur, glass seashells.

 
 

Etch

I questioned the gone creatures; the bunting’s holy trill.  Fury
                         questioned sleep’s shape. Then mouthed
a track back over the stream.  Every closed doorway
 
stayed closed.  So we traveled through patterns of water             no longer bound
by the lunatic body and it’s odd permissions. I could see the dry hills
 
were already moonlit erasures, a legible oat-color blur, like this room
immaculately lit with condolence.
 
We, who this folded wing posesses, light the hour of death. Announcing
its tiny midsummer blossom. You would no longer whisper
with your lips close to my throat. So I lay my throat
just under the knife.  It’s blade loves the ember’s violet between us.
 
***
 
Your soul left slowly as a diminished collection of goldfinches leaned like shadows
through an oleander blast.  A stray breath in your chest purpled, lichen
flaking stone’s shriven heel. The walls pulsed a sleepless dream water.  And
a white-tail star trailed the doe up the bank and out the window.
 
Baptized by the brown robin’s chest, bellflowers branching quatrain. Oak, (lulled secrets, scented insomnia with myrrh) a new syntax, a silver-sable autumn; cobalt night without water.
 
 
 

 

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                                                                                                          September 6, 2013