JERSEYWORKS FALL POETRY

BY ZOE GABRIEL, THERESE HALSCHEID, AND JOHN GREY

THREE BY ZOE GABRIEL


The Wind

The second-floor apartment is become
an Arc for one,
a tossing crow's nest
unmoored on a sea of raging possibilities
that sink even ghost ships.

Battered by sound,
I curl up so that I will roll
if blown away,
trying to take up very little space,
and shield my soft guts and heart.

I want to claw deeper into your warmth,
use your body as a burrow,
peeking out from under the comforter
only occasionally, a fox in its hole.

Fairy tales are cautionary tales:
my primeval reaction to the gale reminds me
that I am better off
not attracting the attention
of anything this big and impersonal.

Is the instinct for self-preservation
always just a form of cowardice?
I tuck in my paws,
camouflage myself between your fingers,
and wait for the sun to thaw us out.


Perfect

The day started late,
and was hot. I walked,
soaking up the sun and whistles
at three separate construction sites.
I knocked off work
and lay on the couch reading
a book that made me nod and smile,
a communion. The upstairs neighbors
played piano, didn't fight.
My flesh fit comfortably,
neither forlorn nor icy-sharp.
Pretzel sticks warmed by the afternoon sun
on the kitchen table -
a piece of this day in my mouth.
I wrote, then sweated
on the bus to go see
some very over-the-top artwork,
and really rejoiced in supper:
sausage, cheese, yogurt.
Perfect? Near as.


Carnival of One

Short trips are like cough drops
or licorice - at once jarring and soothing,
a reminder not to get too comfortable
and a confirmation of just how good
are routine and a familiar bed.

Only a little nervous (it's just
for four days, and I won't be
crossing any oceans), the night before
my ears prick up like a rabbit's.

Windows cut off and preserve
like specimen jars. Hunting for the echo
of a neighbor's stereo,
I open one onto the last
warm evening before autumn moves in
with its bulging luggage, here to stay.

Instead of music I hear one half
of a telephone conversation,
like half a walnut or a cup without a saucer,
background noise for a courtyard
festooned with windows
curtained or bare, red, yellow or white,
flickering with screens or dark,
as for a quiet fiesta.

Including, for once, the faint glow
behind the bedroom curtains
where I am starting a new book
the way one relishes a new lover.
Even after I close the window
and shut off the light, the warm breath
of a workaday evening remains,
a good omen for the journey.



THERESE HALSCHEID

Morning Prayer for Pink

Messenger of morning, sign of the sun coming,
let it live on our bodies as well as the waking sky, let it be
the sudden blush, the shade of the tongue
which colors our speech

let it appear as the pale skin of the palm, any palm,
as with the luster of meadows, any meadow, say it has been so
since creation, and will go on .

When we pause to listen, let us hear pink
as a musical note, the sound of it innocent,
first tone of the heart before it ripens
into red love. Let it be.

Let us touch it and say of pink it is neither salt, nor silk,
but the feeling of pleasure, smooth-skinned as petals, the bud
hidden between a woman's legs.

And when autumn comes and colors fade wearily out of things,
let us see pink as a constant, long shade of dawn,
and praise and praise pink and beyond that
say nothing more .

Do not claim it as being meant only for boy or for girl, do not confine it,
not when it is the first hue we wake to, not when it crosses freely
over the trees, down through
the crooks of them, painting the ponds to look
like freshly squeezed grapefruit. Let it be.

And though the mind cannot shine, let it see
through the lens of our eyes how pink remains

like permanent dye, staining the soles of our feet, that part of us
stepping over the old earth, leading us through evening light,
to where the sun moves down.



JOHN GREY

Jukebox in Heaven

They all cling to their music
even as the night
tries to pull their ears
and their tunes apart.
I'm a southern white male
in my mid-thirties,
says Michael.
I must have my
"Free Bird" please.
I'm a soft hearted
black guy in his
later twenties, declares Henry.
Give me my Marvin Gaye,
Art craves his psychedelics,
Joe his Hank Williams
and Peter, the Rolling Stones
like they were in the sixties.
What's on this damn
jukebox anyhow,
they snarl as they huddle
around its menu.
It's all the latest pop tunes,
nothing they know.
No wonder they're dead.


Jerseyworks home