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Carolyn Srygley-Moore (email)


Playground Safety

Easy to enter but difficult to leave (when is Daddy coming

home?), the rules of playground

                                    safety – take turns on the jungle

gym of transported logs, hollowed and painted yellow;

know this contraption of circle on circle

                        is no amusement park merry-go-round, but

the earth waiting to crash

into a meteor, waiting for its hubris to end. Massacred

                                                ideals, no way out.

The therapist turned priest enters a realm of thin words,

thin tears – talking about

            not being able to talk about it. At this point of

the mess, the beginning act is moot abstraction – the

assassin of what Arch Duke caused

                                                what carnage?

How we grope the Braille of the unexpected, it’s all

about surprise, about the golden cloak

                                    that made Frodo invisible.

“My Precious…” The ventriloquist dummy is booed

off the stage, his master’s lips moved

                        visibly, somehow grotesque. The ransom

note is lettered in Sunday newsprint, my daughter is

seeking a snow day in summer, the day the world

            as we know it will end, at least, we will enter

the tunnel of the third world war,

and class will be cancelled tomorrow.




                       Transgressions of the boundary

Genet repeats: Corners


                                                                                    There is no use for human bone

                                                                        Stroking femurs that whistle

                                                                                                From the windowsill


                        Hold a rose toward the eyes of your own murderer                  

                                    (They will say you caused it

                                                                        Through your own powers)


            Abandon all sentiments of fear

The matches are wet


There is the inevitable sandbar

                        The ferryman far beyond reach

            And the priest playing with tortoise

                                    Shells in the ash


                                                            Genet repeats: Corners

                                                Hold a rose toward the eyes of the murderer


                                    Who is your father


                                                                                    A single lightbulb, interrogating

                                                                                                The initiates


Transgressions of the boundary

            Carried through arteries around the river’s bend

                        The middle C of abandonment, your hair loose

                                    And loveless

                                                                        Facing the other way

                                                            From the monkey between yourself

                                                And origin


                                    There are ways to learn about power / pleasure / desire

                        With no sense of the weather or history


                                                Genet repeats: Corners


                        The single lightbulb alters the square

                                    Planets, names, released from rotations

A setting of winter transposed

                                                A doubling, redoubling


                                                                                 So subjectivities become possible


                                                            The full moon gone

                                    Unslept mastery of mourning doves



Incidental Kin

On a road with no guardrails she swerves up and around

the hill, trees spreadeagle collisions of red, swerves

up and around and sees the doe. The torn

lots of the body shiver slow as wind on lakewater, a gold

liquid karat: she pulls the car over, traffic behind it

does not stop but brackets her and the doe and a bit

of dry brush. She pulls the car over, gets out, hair

in her face as if she’s been making love, hand steady

as when she unfolded her father from the evening

table, then folded his hands and shut his eyes.

The lower half of the doe quits moving but

like light from a just-quit star the full belly moves

now autonomous, the belly shivers and jumps

and she knows, the doe too is pregnant. Someone

calls from a stopped jeep, she asks for a hunting

knife, “though I don’t know how one cuts-out

a living thing…” He lifts the hem of his autumn

plaid, the ulterior sun sucks last light from the doe

belly and flank, sucks it in, then, its ulterior own.




    *          I bite my lip, tell him to always recall his heritage: a juxtaposition

            With voluptuous intent.


    *          Before the Flood, there were no distinctions, I professed love to either

            Gender. Pilfered senses, the marvelous.


    *          I thrive within the hurricane. Wicker baskets hang upside down from

            The kitchen ceiling, grief’s providence.


    *          Broken pencil lead and old prints of guitar-strewn roads. The dream

            Work is a critique of reality.


    *          Hypnotisms and their emergence: past lives, children left along highways

            At night. (Three police cars did not arrive.)


    *          The visionary is ripe for a sideshow. As instructed, he planted warts

            On his soul.


    *          Who will detonate the proverbs with me. From this exile, doubling,

            I know the use of the skeptic.


    *          Madness is a political value, from slaveships or elsewhere.


    *          Once, in a garden, I was dead for a whole morning. Enchantments,

            Above which is written: the gazelles.


    *          Of course, who is holding my hand?


    *          There are keyrings and the prison’s resistance. Streetvendors hold

            Toward me the choicest strawberry, say – here, the witness to your

            New road. –


    *          On this asteroid, which is the superior rose.


    *          I have enough space, enough pause. I have access to the isosceles

            Triangle, mother-of-pearl, wherein lies the Philosopher’s Stone.


    *          Revolution alters the import of folklore and song. Let me see

            As from Lenin’s eyes.


    *          Tavern drunks turn and stare as the door opens. It is the hour

            Of adult men crying.


    *          I try to emancipate my own mind. Through alleys I chant fairies

            And gnomes of redemption.



Unlearning Everything

Make of your life a river – he says – ignoring time, held gently

                        By rocky sediments of the earth

                        By silt

                        By the reflections of the sky.


                                                Unlearn everything you’ve learned thus far, replace it


            With the mechanism of four wings

            Stroking a dragonfly through

            Dense smoke


                                                To the other side.


Watch birds. Make a feeder of wet clay.


                                               See them nibble with their spectral beaks.


When you ask: what am I to do with these baskets of grief – know, it will all remain


                        This terrifying. Being. Choices. The sounds

                        Milling the quarry of blue granite

                        Where multiple children have drowned

                        Where we used to swing on a rope and drop

                        Into the water. Never thinking past

                        The feel of water. Sun.


Luck might stay steadfast or give out.


                                                Like floorboards of a house on stilts


                                                Beneath which there is simply air. Beneath air


                                                Swamp. Where nothing but insects


                                                Can live in living breathe.


There are rarest moments, commencing from the place you stand:


                        She wore red shoes. A car passed by. You ripped

                        A paper dollar and each took half.

                        (Thirty years past you still have yours.)


                        Or simply holding calm, so still, regarding

                        The notched blue of a Creek arrowhead.



                                                Know this: you are regarding


                                                            History as it unfolds. It unfolds


                                                            As it must. Yourself


                                                            Whistling, numb


                                                            With having fun, a river


                                                            Cradled gently


                                                            By the rocks of earth,


                                                            The reflections of the sky.