The Tie-dyed Angel Sings Her Bruise1 _ [textile]
The metropole swills pink
enjambs black dyslexic love breaks
a year and a day into azalea’s milk
a slave to potent poison – sweet, elusive hankering
consigned to mist and metaphor
What is this neither, this pith
That it is empty or full,
that it wanders the corpse of a hero
intent on overdose of neuron dust
makes for an eye-fest a diligent move achingly
east of Hercules.
What is this neither, this hope-to-be
patch of elbow, skying forward
for sojourn, refuge, combat
frost on its path, self-soothing sleet?
Trod with care so as not to fall.
Every inch of sidewalk scathes abstract
now a centimetre, luminary
mail unchained specks
her trail toward the aster’s center.
2 – [bruise]
These are thorns between her thighs –
that compel and pinch
clench a cup of memory
and she wonders on
a cringe of light across the tibia
threads stitched over Mercury
How many deserts has she told them?
Thistledown whispered back
to a hole in the earth – her
thighs – the earth – her thighs
of thorn and resin
That scat, jazz or fossil, multipurpose
duotone too slick – a silence writ large
in any language garden – waste metered
replaces words with astral gilings
She cannot – shunned
for her perfume – and why should she —
western as it is, sandalwood
an early sneak of rose-waft
arranged as liquid in the mode of bayou
wetness loosening into collusion
stampede of agitated weeds
3 – [lately and the labyrinth]
What accumulates magnetizes
as spice, drips in earth-thirst
a titch of schadenfreude –
and nobody’s lamenting
I begin to bare words for sacrifice
lay them down as Isaac, Iphigenia
in color blind assonance
I begin to pluck the tesserae from
museum walls, disturb the peace
deconstruct the world-wood as suizhet.
Today, I am St. Anne, though I forgot
to pray and there is no laurel in sight
Today I am a vortex, a 10 of clubs
a kidneyful of rage
a wraith resewn in metal
I see morning’s light from some other time
try to empty the sea in five-gallon jugs
4 – [siren song]
Speaking of depletion, I smile
say that I am swallowed in wave
that my underlids are dulse, magenta’d
a doily on my hide
a stencil of sleep lost
over one hundred oceans, or only two
a meme of sangfroid across my face
Sedge weeps through me and its effigy
litoral aperture disappears.
I had thought myself frail
but I am broadband, blind to tamping sounds
to skinning words stoked in rime.
I am merwoman, everywoman
and what looks like fret
resists the sweetened dote
what looks like tatter is
the last harvest of a bigamous seabreeze
Intent-on rind worn as vintage
tattoo, as bruise-embrace
a tangle abraded, kelpish and fierce
holds me deep among the reeds.
5 – [on the other hand]
one ungenerous flinters white – not ungenerous
like a ziggurat crumble or a lawn awaiting marvels
but in a dream, bedded and sprawled.
A skulking fritellaria
mistakes herself for a cobra
what wind to billow her askance.
When I am a cobweb, a death of hair,
I’ll alight as a child, dance on her eyebrow
This finger dipped in topsoil
points to an untimely dandelion, risen
seven weeks before its due –
it would like to believe itself
astragalus, eleuthero, schisandra
filling the space between worm and harm
it would rather be a pellet, a bulb a-lean
in arabesque or ambush, panting for reality.
The flower terrifies itself
eavesdropping on skin
polka-dotted exorcism in smithereens.
6 – [theapathy: the gods on leave]
Of your remembered greeting
an outmoded hell, o’ thrall
and thrice known hijinks
What is this lipish drama –
a dram of cryptic messages
stick like plankton to
confound and thrill
riff on dictators
who make a mockery of cabbage
truffle pre-empted by hunger
In such a way, the patella is scraped
by thunderbolt lends a whiff of lilac
the odor that calls mortality
something to count on,
a chance of starry showers.
There are splinters in the house of god
termites chewing on brick and wallflower
We are enough to fall
on knees and pray our peace
in somersault secrets
We are crucifer and cross, still
a pall, we quaff our word-stuff.
7 – [and when the river of your grief becomes a continent]
In the gathering madness,
a credo fogs the endless finish.
We malinger meanwhile, extracting
purple streetlight ennui
from sororal bellies
soup and sorghum for a schilling.
A destiny of hands: remote provinces.
1. Banner: Leah – Burlesque (c) J. Piudik (2022).
2. Photomania – Rainwater (c) J. Piudik (2022).
Jaclyn Piudik is the author of To Suture What Frays (Kelsay Books 2017) and three chapbooks, the corpus undone in the blizzard (Espresso Chapbooks 2019), Of Gazelles Unheard (Beautiful Outlaw 2013) and The Tao of Loathliness (fooliar press 2005/8). Her poems have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals, including New American Writing, Columbia Poetry Review, Burning House and Barrow Street. She received a New York Times Fellowship for Creative Writing and the Alice M. Sellers Award from the Academy of American Poets. Piudik holds an M.A. in Creative Writing from the City College of New York, as well as an M.A. and Ph.D. in Medieval Studies from the University of Toronto. Tweets: @jpiudik
Page layout and design: Robett Frede Kenter.