A Two-Person Poem In Nine Manifestations by William C. Blome


Often said, often shrugged, but clear here:
We must be quick, and we must not falter.
The captain could have been a major, but declined
To board a general’s cat with fur some gaudy
Lapis shade and now spends his everlovin’ days
Stacking blankets on cedar shelves near Nome.
A reflex action (to stuff a time capsule full
Of lint and vicarious agonies)? I don’t think so,
But the bedrock you’re after obviously isn’t quarried here.


Identify the speed so counter-indicated
In the bloodless passing of the baby Turk.
You’re uncompromising on your knees as you bury
Buttons in fabric scraps, and I lust to libel you
From four p.m. on or so, even if practically anyone
Can follow a trail of bleach drizzled on jet black
Tiles. Hold it higher, my pretty: let me see its rare,
Rare curls; and now given all these criteria, maybe
In the light of day we’ll sketch the merchant’s dunes.


Sit quietly and share nothing that was given
You in Sicily. Oh yes, lust and calculations
Are linked in a kernel-to-flower-to-seed
Configuration. Argumentative-brat-of-a-figurine
Who leaves imagination as a powdery residue
On the brick walls along my side-door alley—
Cupid, visit stray mythologies that have need
Of the pulsating infection you transmit:
I know nothing which can trump a cozy afternoon.


And now we tumble down yon bluff
So yellow it’s made of ripe bananas
Welded to canaries in their prime. Will the doctor come
To examine the giant who seems so very fickle
About his bathing place? You tossed and turned
This afternoon, while I had to use your favorite sickle
To slice you a bouquet of drenched wisteria.
Units of ten, all coins are dimes;
Maybe I have been too placid—too long—to most.


My case was presented with gaunt precision,
Its points like gems were cut to sparkle,
So don’t blame me (or tomorrow my progeny)
If the box was built to bad dimensions.
This life is a coast of forces in tandem:
Predictable waves break in and out at random.
Keep the fairy pinioned to the floorboards.
What a blaze this fire from gilded wood
Makes at the paws of the bishop’s wolf!


They like to tell the story west of Sligo
About a mechanic with fifteen big concerns
And only three-quarters of one worry.
On our last night at sea, was it you or me
‘Had the idea to paint a sail on the ceiling
Of our cabin, and damn if the ship didn’t flee
That longitude like a thief caught red-handed
Inside her mark, with loot tucked tight and smooth
Under swell and bulging leotards.


The contrarian view holds that in such a situation,
You must abandon your perch behind the railing
And willingly engage the gathering browsers.
Well, many songs have no words, though I know
Of none which can’t support some voicings.
You held the hammer, you smashed the bust
Of your drowsy neighbor, swiped her trousers,
And now head home, head home to Tunis,
That sapphire mix of mules and twine.


I’m not like the idiot actress
Whose flawless performances count for naught;
My house was hung like a hammock
Between two ravines on the north horizon,
And when fame discovered my talent’s work,
I bargained to seep silence everywhere,
One fluid coating over ears and lips. No, my jasmine,
The steamer’s departed, and like flies we’re caught
In a timetable’s web of crisscross journeys.


Draw down, please, dense lace behind our eyes,
While we eat our dice and stare straight out;
Take your routine ride (like a morning shower)
On smoking diesels inside the aerodrome.
I see myself standing near an oyster bar,
I’m dreaming about spots on the map of France
On a globe the shape of a plump teen’s bottom.
What colors finally survive to flash at night?
Only the assumptions of noon, only daytime dyes.

William C. Blome
William C. Blome writes poetry and short fiction. He lives in the States, wedged between Baltimore and Washington, DC. He once swiped a master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars while the getting was good. His work has previously seen the light of day in such fine little mags as Poetry London, PRISM International, Fiction Southeast, Roanoke Review, and The California Quarterly.

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