BY kim addonizio
Today the cloud shapes are terrifying,
and I keep expecting some enormous
black-and-white B-movie Cyclops
to appear at the edge of the horizon,
to come striding over the ocean
and drag me from my kitchen
to the deep cave that flickered
into my young brain one Saturday
at the Baronet Theater where I sat helpless
between my older brothers, pumped up
on candy and horror—that cave,
the litter of human bones
gnawed on and flung toward the entrance,
I can smell their stench as clearly
as the bacon fat from breakfast. This
is how it feels to lose it—
not sanity, I mean, but whatever it is
that helps you get up in the morning
and actually leave the house
on those days when it seems like death
in his brown uniform
is cruising his panel truck
of packages through your neighborhood.
I think of a friend’s voice
on her answering machine—
Hi, I’m not here—
the morning of her funeral,
the calls filling up the tape
and the mail still arriving,
and I feel as afraid as I was
after all those vampire movies
when I’d come home and lie awake
all night, rigid in my bed,
unable to get up
even to pee because the undead
were waiting underneath it;
if I so much as stuck a bare
foot out there in the unprotected air
they’d grab me by the ankle and pull me
under. And my parents said there was
nothing there, when I was older
I would know better, and now
they’re dead, and I’m older,
and I know better.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Sonata No. 1 for Violin & Piano by Sergei Prokofiev
Home Movies: A Sort of Ode
BY mary jo salter
Because it hadn't seemed enough,
after a while, to catalogue
more Christmases, the three-layer cakes
ablaze with birthday candles, the blizzard
Billy took a shovel to,
Phil's lawnmower tour of the yard,
the tree forts, the shoot-'em-ups
between the boys in new string ties
and cowboy hats and holsters,
or Mother sticking a bow as big
as Mouseketeer ears in my hair,
my father sometimes turned the gaze
of his camera to subjects more
artistic or universal:
long closeups of a rose's face;
a real-time sunset (nearly an hour);
what surely were some brilliant autumn
leaves before their colors faded
to dry beige on the aging film;
a great deal of pacing, at the zoo,
by polar bears and tigers caged,
he seemed to say, like him.
What happened between him and her
is another story. And just as well
we have no movie of it, only
some unforgiving scowls she gave
through terrifying, ticking silence
when he must have asked her (no
sound track) for a smile.
Still, what I keep yearning for
isn't those generic cherry
blossoms at their peak, or the brave
daffodil after a snowfall,
it's the re-run surprise
of the unshuttered, prefab blanks
of windows at the back of the house,
and how the lines of aluminum
siding are scribbled on with meaning
only for us who lived there;
it's the pair of elephant bookends
I'd forgotten, with the upraised trunks
like handles, and the books they meant
to carry in one block to a future
that scattered all of us.
And look: it's the stoneware mixing bowl
figured with hand-holding dancers
handed down so many years
ago to my own kitchen, still
valueless, unbroken. Here
she's happy, teaching us to dye
the Easter eggs in it, a Grecian
urn of sorts near which—a foster
child of silence and slow time
myself—I smile because she does
and patiently await my turn.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Melancholia by Duke Ellington
BY frank o’hara
Mothers of America
let your kids go to the movies!
get them out of the house so they won’t know what you’re up to
it’s true that fresh air is good for the body
but what about the soul
that grows in darkness, embossed by silvery images
and when you grow old as grow old you must
they won’t hate you
they won’t criticize you they won’t know
they’ll be in some glamorous country
they first saw on a Saturday afternoon or playing hookey
they may even be grateful to you
for their first sexual experience
which only cost you a quarter
and didn’t upset the peaceful home
they will know where candy bars come from
and gratuitous bags of popcorn
as gratuitous as leaving the movie before it’s over
with a pleasant stranger whose apartment is in the Heaven on Earth Bldg
near the Williamsburg Bridge
oh mothers you will have made the little tykes
so happy because if nobody does pick them up in the movies
they won’t know the difference
and if somebody does it’ll be sheer gravy
and they’ll have been truly entertained either way
instead of hanging around the yard
or up in their room
prematurely since you won’t have done anything horribly mean yet
except keeping them from the darker joys
it’s unforgivable the latter
so don’t blame me if you won’t take this advice
and the family breaks up
and your children grow old and blind in front of a TV set
movies you wouldn’t let them see when they were young
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Movie Music by Aaron Copland
BY aram saroyan
He was too excited to fall asleep.
The little dog wouldn’t stop barking.
He took out his gun.
He took out his handkerchief.
He took out his notebook.
He drank his coffee and left a dime.
He walked into the room.
He took her in his arms.
She let him in and walked out of the room.
He ran down the escalator.
He left the motor running.
He waited in the rain.
He needed something to tell the police.
He went down unconscious.
The blood drained from his face.
His eyes melted into a smile.
He dialed and waited, looking around.
He took off his hat in the elevator.
He rang the doorbell and waited.
He poured the cereal and added milk.
He opened the refrigerator and looked in.
He turned the page and continued reading.
He shut the door and switched the light on.
He looked up at a plane in the sky.
He put three pennies one on top of another.
He squeezed onto the elevator.
He took out his key.
He helped her into her coat.
He crossed the room and picked up the phone.
He drove on through the heavy rain.
He whistled for a cab.
He turned the corner and bumped into her.
She gradually surrendered to his kiss.
He drove past the wrought-iron gates.
He lit a cigarette and waited.
He lied to the police.
He threw the dice and won.
He folded the newspaper and crossed his legs.
He sat down in the lobby.
He tied his shoes and stood up.
He put on his hat but didn’t get up.
He thought about her until he fell asleep.
He said “Goodbye” and hung up.
He threw the dice and lost.
He dialed and waited for her to answer.
He left some money for her.
He looked for her door number.
The police arrived late.
He walked into her building.
He let her do the explaining.
He gave up hope and begged.
He locked his car and walked.
She gave him that look of hers.
He put a finger to his lips.
He wiped his mouth and left.
He slapped her across the face hard.
He lit a cigarette in the dark.
The police wouldn’t understand.
Her little dog slept.
Her voice had an edge to it.
Her hands were wonderful when she touched him.
His mind might be playing tricks on him.
The low hills reminded him of her.
There was no way to cut his losses.
He needed a shave and a haircut.
The coffee did nothing for him.
She was somewhere else when he called.
Pain stabbed him as he reached toward the glove compartment.
He needed a little time in the desert.
He decided to head for the beach and then thought better.
He needed about $5,000.
He ran out of Luckies and crumpled the pack.
He left his hat on in the car.
Maybe he was ready to die.
He checked his wallet pocket.
All of his friends had disappeared.
He remembered her naked body.
He had almost no savings.
He was at least ten pounds overweight.
He realized he was in love with her.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Laura, by David Raksin
BY kate northrop
Come, let’s go in.
has shyly grinned
and it’s almost time,
Let’s go in.
The wind tonight’s too wild.
The sky too deep,
too thin. Already it’s time.
The lights have dimmed.
Let’s go in
and know these bodies
we do not have to own, passing
quietly as dreams, as snow.
Already leaves are falling
and music begins.
Let’s go in.