Bio Note: I am the author of the forthcoming poetry collection The Wordless Lullaby of Crickets, the Russian historical novel Infraction, and several other books. I sell my published poems individually in two vending machines in Chicago--one at a bookstore and one at brew pub--to raise money for a local nonprofit arts organization. My canine companion Gracie is a former racing dog who frequently inserts herself into my poems.
And I’m dazzled by you all over again. The ornaments you made—satin, ribbons, sequins, pearly pushpins— ornate and elegant as Fabergé eggs— rim the tree. The painting in white silhouette of Don Quixote astride Rocinante, the palm-sized brass cylinder etched with the Little Prince, his rose, and the fox—you knew my heart, the one now pierced with your memory. You lived in the palm of art. Was the beauty too much to bear? The year we drove to Ladysmith to visit the artist, your beau, my uncle—your fawn-colored suede jacket a perfect metaphor for you—warm, supple, refined. I never saw you with your horses but envision their hooves hammering your demons to granular bits, only to have them rise up again—dust devils of the soul. In the end, you could not tame them. Every year now, your ornaments circle the bottom- most branches of the Christmas tree. Glittering hem, dew-jeweled flowers, whimsical satellites orbiting a dark sun.
Alchemy of the Ordinary
Since the cancer two years ago, I look for omens everywhere. Today, walking down a driveway, I saw a shirtless old man. I love your art, I confessed. His smile revealed a gap the width of two nickels, his bald pink gum reminiscent of the barrenness on the top of his skull, its skin the color of a pecan shell and ringed by a ruff of silvery gray hair like a laurel wreath. I hope what I do makes people a little happy, he says. It’s he who strings wires from rooftop to treetop to treetop and hangs upon them whatever might catch the light and toss it back—currently, dozens of glass tubes, brass candlesticks, coffee cups, a colander, glass baubles, bottles, and goblets, the rusty blade of a crosscut saw, and a gleaming brass platter somehow reminiscent of Don Quixote’s Golden Helmet of Mambrino. A trio of giant white seashells float in a blue sky. Inside a chain-link fence sloping from the train tracks, two ceramic horse heads glazed a shimmery black. I wanted to hold onto every detail, greedy for images to transform into words. I notice, then, the leafy tree festooned with rusted railroad spikes, bound into bouquets of four or so. I especially love, I say, how different it is every time I come here— sometimes without even knowing that’s where I was headed. He says, Nothing in life ever remains unchanged, tells me his name is Louie, shakes my hand. Be careful, I think to say as I leave, on those ladders. The wires hang two stories high, and he is not a youngster. That’s like telling a monkey not to fall out of the tree, he laughs. How can this day be anything short of dazzling?
The Canine Times-Picayune
Her nose roams the weeds like any good investigative reporter looking for the hottest news, the Lois Lane of Lhasa Apsos, Lurchers, and Labradoodles. If sniffing proves insufficient to parse a scent, she will lay her tongue on a blade of grass to taste the smell as well. In a breeze, her nose twitches like a divining rod, separating the wee from the chaff. Always, she’s addressing the journalist’s standard questions: who, what, where, and when. In her nine years, she must have collected millions of points of data. I will never know what she knows, her nasal wisdom thousands of times greater than my own. What does she do with all that information? Perhaps she does nothing. Perhaps it’s enough simply to know.
©2023 Yvonne Zipter
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