Three Poems by Sam Rasnake
– for Jeanne Dielman
Each day a habit of things – the do and don’t of
alarm to coffee to polished shoes – first breakfast,
then school, then pajamas tucked under the pillow
for days, for months, for years. The bed is folded
away to couch, and the shopping is done. Lost
buttons, empty streets. Even the name disappears.
The mail, elevator, the hall. Mail, elevator, hall.
Lights off, lights on, room to room, for pantry,
for music, knitting, Baudelaire. Clean forks
and spoons, cracked eggs and flour. The hands.
What could possibly be more dull, more empty,
than peeling potatoes with mindless precision
as if it were the reason to breathe, as if it were
some long and steady ache for carving out
the eyes – for washing, for cutting into halves,
then quarters – the water boiling on the stove,
a constant gurgle of steam against tile as the only
comfort while the bastard city offers its trade
in body against body, making whores of us all.
A Geometry of Extremes
It’s human to lie.
- from Rashomon by Akira Kurosawa
In a dark forest tangle,
in a breath of sun,
three whispers of wind
along the road. What if
I say it rained that day,
what if heat were snow, and
the one thing to remember
is a cloud – how it curved
downward against blue. If
we see it, it must be true then.
Tree, pond, blade. Everything,
little by little, making sense.
Everything, real. The loudest
no means yes, and the dead
speak only of pride, sweat
on the chin, eyes closing
to surrender – reminders
that once lost, lost forever.
In a tangle, in a breath.
A desperate rage of power,
of lust or fear that wills
the body on. The unsayable
your feet, your hands
never dreamed to know.
Leave your mark. Burn
a shadow toward the future
for determined jaws to ponder.
He lifts a smoky chin
over sand & cactus & lizard,
settles in against the stars
above Joshua Tree, against the beat
of legend, the click of train to rail,
until his gray puffs of bone
come to nothing
The words say
wild horses run the flatland to where
the only music is wind over rock –
a mirage of silent curves & sin
(his own) with mounds of bottles,
with pools of goodness
Sam Rasnake’s poetry has appeared in OCHO, RICK MAGAZINE, Shampoo, FRiGG, Poets/Artists, Naugatuck River Review, Press 1, Literal Latté, Istanbul Literary Review, Portland Review, Otoliths, MiPOesias, Metazen, and BluePrintReview, as well as the anthologies Best of the Web 2009 (Dzanc Books), Deep River Apartments (The Private Press), and BOXCAR Poetry Review Anthology 2. He is the author of one collection, Necessary Motions (Sow’s Ear Press) and two chapbooks – Religions of the Blood (Pudding House) and Lessons in Morphology (GOSS183). A chapbook of poems, Inside a Broken Clock, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. Rasnake also edits Blue Fifth Review, an online journal of poetry and art.