Monday, November 20, 2006

Jeanne Stauffer-Merle

Fizzling Out

Reclining backwards on the ferry bleeds
into the past like sludge onto a sliding beach
beneath the sultry palm's cool diagonal.
Here slogs the duck who is clearly at odds
doesn't understand the forward
thrust of things:

for example, over there, where the homeboys are burning rubber.
On that able-bodied landscape the moments pile up
one clean point upon the other
into fiercely driving lines
like fresh tires that grind through to the end
leaving only razed intentions.

Time traveler is another word for pirate
the frenzied thief sailing clear
the rimed hours the crushing minutes
through a molecular dissolve where the world leaches softly
into skins supple and giddy
with eternity.

Light Endings

Light breaks: watch the world ascend in reverse,
like an egg cracked and opened in reverse.

Pieces of us slip through squeezed light
into still rooms that distend in reverse.

As the door locks tight, the night eats our hands
the light spreading to extend in reverse.

Scribbling lightly again perhaps then
finally I'll be truly penned in re verse.

Children bud intact, light as pregnant seeds;
our lives are well ripened in reverse.

I'm the howling lighthouse on frozen seas.
What dark work to be hidden in reverse!

The last light hangs by a dissolving thread.
We watch the day gently mend in reverse.

Jeanne used to mean a god's benevolent light, so
now I'm a toasty godsend in reverse?

Family Secret

The house is a closed box.
Inside people sleep for days at a time
eyes like closed fists
hands curling to periods.

Outside under the porch light not like light
but a glove covering a mouth
grandpa plucks the headless chicken
still acting out her life
claws wrenched toward a ground
no longer theirs
grandpa's fingers slipping through
the perforated belly
draining something too precious
to remember

Jeanne Stauffer-Merle teaches in the English Departments of Baruch College, in New York City, and at SUNY New Paltz. Her poems have appeared in Caveat Lector; Patriot Axe: Poems of Protest; and elsewhere.