"California," "Hermeneutics," and "Russian Lit"

California

expresses you into the trees
as if Route 5/101 had spit you
 
from the failed gods of San Ysidro​
where a woman shoulders a child
 
from the blondness of LA
which does violence to icons
 
from a kingdom of gangs and tarps—
from the Grape Street Crips and the homeless—
 
and you find yourself , the trip opening
in a green shelter hurtling north
 
with the numb openness of your face
forgetting the pissed-in stalls of Del Mar at dusk
 
and your scars have vanished
and you can’t follow tonight, beneath the moths

 


 

Hermeneutics

after Paul Ricoeur

I read for the notions, I say. To know the writer’s life
is what I really fancy. Why else should I trace each
evolution of tense, each subtlety of phrase?
 
Bambi stands poised on the page, elegant,
beautiful, but I am skeptical of deer. Deer can kill
with their antlers—from the Old French antoillier,
 
a horn in front of the eyes. Is this deer some rogue unicorn?
Is the horn a stabbing horn? Plus, deer have cloven, dangerous
front hooves, sharp for defense, that also form
 
upside-down heart-shaped tracks. That tiny, remorseless
hoof forms the sign of love in the mud. Is its purpose
to coerce a reader to drop her guard? The writer leaves home:
 
A divorce? A subpoena? Another forest? Words
are a gossamer negligee, concealing the ugly bits
with chiffon, with lace, with blood-colored spandex.

 


 

Russian Lit

There was something
about his voice
when he lectured,
something about
his Russian books—
their suicide
protagonists,
their wrestle with
god. When he read
Tolstoy aloud,
I imagined
Count Vronsky, but
I never thought
of the train. There
was something a-
bout his Slavic
good looks, about
stiletto cheek-
bones and glossy
skin that made me
sweeten and rise
beyond the edge
of my little
life. After each
night’s class, I wished,
and shivered in
my marriage bed.
My body wept.

 

 

Wendy Taylor Carlisle

Wendy Taylor Carlisle lives and works in the Arkansas Ozarks. She is the author of five chapbooks and four books, including The Mercy of Traffic, (Unlikely Books, 2019) and On the Way to the Promised Land Zoo to be published later this year (Cyberwit.org, Allahabad, India.) Her work appears in the recent anthologies, Untold Arkansas (EtAlia Press, 2018,) 50/50 (Quills Edge Press, 2018), Star 82 Review Pocket Poems, 2019 and​ Fiolet and Wing (Liminal Books, 2019.) For more information, check her web site at www.wendytaylorcarlisle.com

 

Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Tuesday, October 15, 2019 - 22:39