SUITCASE FULL OF POETRY, POCKET FULL OF ROCKS

Ann Howells

In Bangladesh women busy themselves with morning tasks.
Hindu women flutter like birds, sing high-octave ululations. 

North Korea positions armed missiles aimed at five US cities.
Florida police sergeant is fired for possessing Trevon Martin targets. 

At this very instant a poet in the concert hall reads his work aloud.
At this very instant a woman is raped, her children slaughtered. 

Where is Sylvia who vanished from the concert hall last evening?
In the chapel the pipe organ’s small brass mouths remain silent. 

Angels, from their perch atop the chapel wall, glare at a green man.
Brown and green lizards forage, refuse all religious commitment. 

Poppies clench sunlight in their fists against the coming night.
I curl fetus-like in dark absolute — silence so loud I cannot sleep. 

A buzzard crumpled roadside points one stiff black wing skyward.
When I concentrate on the buzzard I can think of nothing else.

 

TEMPUS FUGIT

… perhaps one should not wish such a blessing as a long life on a friend.
      —James D. Doss 
i

Wired to varied species of medical machines, she grew fragile.
At three a.m. her soul reached its apogee, struggled free. 

She’s a marionette, jumbled bones in rumpled clothes.
We’ll bury her now, though she’s been dead to us for years. 

Her existence in time and place flickers out of focus.
She circumnavigates a different sun, stares into a different moon. 

If she exists at all, it is in another sphere, another world. 
And she owns, in the end, only the subtext we give her. 

Reproachful angels hover, their voices like static in the radio.
These two things gelled her bones: closed spaces and burial in rain.


ii

Her name is Dorothee, Dorothee, a muted chord.
Consonants are muffled drumbeats, vowels a dirge. 

People we hardly recognize wilt in black suits and dresses.
Blackbirds stream, a long black veil, from surrounding trees. 

Humid air fills with mosquitoes, gnats and biting flies.
They open bright blood-blossoms on legs and arms. 

Who can translate these antiquated ciphers of theology?
Who can explain the hierarchy of heaven, ranks of hell? 

Loneliness seeps like chill into bone and gristle.
I am singular, savage and tired of peeling this onion.

 

ANN HOWELL’s poetry has appeared in Calyx, Crannog (Ire), Little Patuxent Review, Magma (UK), Sentence and Spillway as well as other small press and university journals. She serves on the board of Dallas Poets Community, 501-c-3 non-profit; she has edited Illya’s Honey since 1999, recently taking it from print to digital. Her chapbook, Black Crow in Flight, was published by Main Street Rag Publishing (2007). Another chapbook, the Rosebud Diaries, was published by Willet Press (2012). Her work has been read on NPR; she has been interviewed on Writers Around Annapolis television show; and she has been twice nominated for both a Pushcart and a Best of the Net.