Carcinogenic Poety : Top Ten No. 7

Distance

Thick, white breath-fumes
creep slowly over a cold table –
a thin arm stretching
into the steady suction of crisp air
nears a warm mouth,

displacement like a long argument
overheard between thin city walls –

and the tense adrenaline extensions
of an unknown anger,
accelerates and decelerates
along uneven spaces,

the syllabic blur of black faces
in the vacuum of imagination
around passionate bodies,

permeates like that old frozen breath,
dissolving into the widening pools of memory,
dissolving into the widening masquerade of words.


So Much Ash to be Blessed

Sick bodies in a long, orderly
line before a single closed door –

the declining dignity of faces
overcome by the elongating shadows,
the flow of sunlight into evening –

heads rocking to the intermittent
music of low moans and staccato coughs –

There in the silence of distance
too far for the steady hum
of weak voices in whispers,

it is clear their bodies are shrinking
in the decay of gravity and time,
and the heartbreak of charity
from a cold building that doesn’t open –

The line of bodies persistent and endless
ashes over layers of ashes –
the needed blessing,
and no words but my regret.


Cycles

Bright sun-meadow sky,
the reversal of gravity in warm flows,

and a vertical body travelling the deceptive
horizontal passages of atmosphere,
held there between buildings, cupped
like breath over numb-frozen hands –

the unknown handshake of old memories,
when the historian’s today is discarded
and his obsession with the shallow
footprints of old paths renews –

like the author rewriting the same story new
and marveling at the coincidental, replicating
flow of life –

that retouched
blue sky of morning
and the long clouds of fading dust.


The Memory of a Hand

Flowing bodies line the thin parallels,

the gray-scarred sky shadow
is a cool gloom of imperfection

and the escape-fear of being witnessed
deflects our slow steps away from
this looming shade of failure –

this hue slightly reminiscent of memory
like its tepid wind that marks the cheek
slightly cooler than the memory of a hand,

the comforting cradle of a warm mother
leaving that last touch of darkness

as the reality of our eyes
ended in that swift, smiling fade
of eternal contentment.

Jeffrey Parker currently lives in the San Francisco Bay area. One of his poems will be published in the Fall 2011 issue of The Midwest Quarterly, and his first volume of poetry, Downturns, is currently in search of a publisher.

Carcinogenic Poetry: Top Ten crystallizes the journal between 2009 and 2015, sharing the most read posts to date. Presented from final poem to the top of the set, Jeffrey’s poems were published on Saturday, January 29, 2011, and was the fourth most read post at Carcinogenic Poetry.

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