A 9 MM is “quick and adept.” The shooter stands with his violent ears, in which devils are. The devils are we, the forlorn followers of the paranoid “what if.” Our leader, Satan, stands whispering in a little hidden section behind the tympani, behind the breathing meat in a visceral explosion of longing and terror, a confusion of focus.
The rest of this story has to be in someone else’s hand. I’m not brave enough to write out all this sadness. This story has to be turned away from any beautiful dread, from any sexy alarm, from excuses, from the biochemical shell game. The man-gun in this story is blank as le Chiffre, unmoored, drifting away from skin and heat, knowing without means, by need. The man in this story is not the other man; the gun is not one we do not own. We are all meat and millimeters. We are all at bay.
Previously published in Concise, Winter, 2015
This Isn’t a Poem About Late Blooming
Princess Diana, who didn’t have a chance to late bloom, would have been sixty-two this year, an age I can’t imagine since I have, tattooed on the inside of my eyelids, that picture of her at the White House in a spectacular black dress waltzing with John Travolta of Saturday Night Fever fame. No doubt as a sixth decade birthday present, Diana’s faux bio pic, Spencer, debuted at The Venice Film Festival. Pablo Larraín and Kristen Stewart were complicit. In that film, the director and its star hope to capture Diana’s “undeniable, penetrating energy,” the way she “sticks out as a sparkly house on fire,” Maybe even the way she was multiply penetrated. The director said he wanted “to make a movie [his] mother would like.” To make Pablo’s mother happy, Diana tells her maid she’s going to masturbate and breaks a string of pearls into a soup bowl, then eats the pearls and the soup. Let’s acknowledge here again that the “People’s Princess” had her chance to late-bloom cut short. She did have a chance to suffer, though. She had a chance to stumble around in a world full of wankers, trying to find her way in glacial stone castles while her husband took phone calls from his mistress. I hate explanations, so I won’t put one here, but let me say that, just for me, death by paparazzi would have been a relief, unless as the internet whispers, my in-laws had me killed, in which case I’d linger, just as she has, my “sparkly” ghost shadowing my ex-family until the end of time.
We wanted a cruise to Alaska
but we asked ourselves, if we had to cancel
how much of the fare would be refundable?
And would there be a cruise after?
Would there still be an Alaska?
Would ships sail out again, trailing
their viral and diesel shadows, while plastic
slept below in its water archive?
And when our voyage turned into a dream
where a crowd of strangers circled
the deck, waving their handkerchiefs
over the railing, would you and I
still wish to sail north, alert to whatever
came in on a wave from the future.
Wendy Taylor Carlisle lives and writes in the Arkansas Ozarks. She is the 2020 winner of the Phillip H. McMath Post-Publication Award for The Mercy of Traffic and this spring, Doubleback Books reprinted her 2008 book, Discount Fireworks, available free at: Doubleback Books. Her website is www.wendytaylorcarlisle.com. Photo by Greg Comnes.