Reiter’s Block Reloaded and New Poems: “Polish Joke”, “Mis Numeros”

Welcome back, patient readers, to my redesigned blog! Goodbye GoDaddy, hello WordPress. Kudos to web designer Derek Allard at Tunnel 7 and programmer Ryan Askew.

What’s new: Social media sharing buttons on each post. Wider columns for proper formatting of reprinted poems. Color scheme upgraded from “Colonel Mustard in the library” to “Expensive box of chocolates”.

Plus, I now have a Contact form. Please use it if you’d like to send me a private message, or have a question that isn’t directly related to the discussion in the blog post comments. Normal rules of right speech apply.

Regular posting will resume this week on the usual topics of poetry, Christianity, abuse survivor activism, gay male romance, prison reform, and toddlers.

My poems “Mis Numeros” and “Polish Joke”, which address at least three of the above topics, were recently published in the anthology Tic Toc from Kind of a Hurricane Press. Enjoy, comment, share!

****

Polish Joke
This circus has been in our family
forty years, no,
round it up to a hundred—
from the days of us bundled and stowed
out of the old country faster than horses,
lucky as a round number,
one skinny papa with two zero eyes.
You wouldn’t have believed to look at us
that we were carrying a circus.
Back then, it was just fleas.

But what gets you across the ocean
except a conjurer who pulls
scarves of red battles, blue hills and yellow butter
out of his memory hat
for weeks in the seasick dark?
Who charms fat rabbits
out of an empty cupboard
except a dame hard enough
to tango with pythons
and disappear a sword down her throat?

Later, when we had enough eggs to juggle,
we added some new members
you might recognize:
The girl who jumps from high places,
that versatile girl
who is not really sawed in half,
who is not really rising asleep from her bed
snagged on invisible wires.
The bickering family with flapping shoes
and greasepaint smiles red as borscht,
honking up in their tiny car
through the middle of somebody else’s ballet,
laughter sticking to them like flypaper.
The young fellow with eyes black as magnets
who combs out golden manes,
leads tawny bodies through caged tricks,
but makes the anxious ladies wet their handkerchiefs
by sticking his head for a moment
in the whipped animal’s jaws.

Our greatest addition was the strongman:
Even forty years,
no, call it a hundred
since he’s been gone,
his sausage-armed sons
and their sons after them
are still pounding that mallet
against the target at their feet,
sweating to make that same bell ring
loud enough to shatter
the old man’s perfect score.

****

Mis Numeros

Una lagartija, one
salamander—son
spun in the vernal womb, you turn
on my lap to gum this page,
dos hojas, two
leaves like your double tree
of names, mothers, she
(me) who waited and she who grew
you, the reason we learn
to try these words on our tongues
like the wet fruit you mash in your fist,
tres fresas, three
strawberries, why is death the color of kisses,
quatros corazones, four
hearts that never banged
against baby ribs like the good ringing
of your spoon on wood,
cinco zanahorias, five
carrots sunrise splattered, scattered
brothers in a fairy tale,
your other father’s sons
baptized in Colombian rain—
him salamander again, gone to ground
to work without a name,
paperless, surviving in the cracks, as
seis serpientes, six
snakes of my lean years whispered praise
for quiet rooms, bare cellars, battle-rest
that you laugh at each dawn, silver
rattle crash that shakes
siete estrellas, seven
stars from the sky over two nations,
four ancestors, unnumbered questions
you will bellow, my April ram,
when these words become yours.

 

[Inspired by the bilingual picture book “Mis Numeros” by Rebecca Emberley]

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