Wednesday, June 6, 2012

To capture the fallen grape

To capture the fallen grape

The hand squeegees out and rasps too loud against the shelf with garden books
a tall shelf, one with those heavy heave-ho books
to capture the fallen grape.
That’s the kind of thing that’ll give us away. That’s the kind of thing that
Marmalade the orange-hair scoundrel, our school marm
would have chastised us about in “Advanced Sneakery.”

For how many aeons have we perked along in the rooms behind the rooms,
living behind the bookshelves that are really doors?
Sometimes I wish I could come out into the light of day

though moonbeams through the west window and
night dances are full of joy. We are Anne Frank always
and suppressed joy, now that mortal humans cannot stand
the thought of us; their reality spaces continue to narrow.

We live in the ecotone, the thin limn, the third space
behind the bookcases they don’t know slide. One time I dropped my
writing nib, another time a nub of cheese. Getting their
refrigerator doors open can be trouble. Their insomnia
can be frightening: sudden stuttering bathrobe looming.

Sometimes the fable of the nuclear war feels like a dream.
If they would just die, as Genny suggests, we’d have the
run of the place. But life would be hard, how to get used to the
sweep of open land, the cold touch of stars, the rush of air, the rain.
We’d have to start stockpiling pincushion seeds, and wild mustard
against the frost times.

I’m game, ready to be released from
the time of humans; they’ve lost their way.

Perhaps if we can telegraph our kin
who live in the pentagon bookshelves,
we’ll do them in. 

Responding to
Prompt 4:
4. Secret doors in bookcases. Pick a wall in your home, a book case or shelf, and write a poem describing the life of the beings who come and go through the secret access door of that shelf, which actually slides back to reveal... what? Use concrete words and full senses to make it real for us...


  1. From the author: I have a strong emotional aversion to this poem, and where it lands. Parts of it offend me. Should I delete it? Should I rescind? Where are the bounds of poetic responsibility? this poem challenges me.

    1. I quite like this poem, actually. The subject has unleashed a very different voice in you. It is dark, but no less fascinating and worth reading. I think it's valuable for there to be space for the negative, difficult, nihilist thoughts to have their say.

    2. Yes, I feel like it's resonant with my mother's poetic voice, she has always had a little more clarity and sharpness (the so cal urban twist I always considered it) in her work.

      And/or, it's the authentic voice of the creatures behind the bookshelves, and there's no messin' with that ; )

  2. Janice - thanks for the inspiration - "the cold touch of stars"
    echoes in the empty room

    1. No greater compliment than to be confused with real talent : )