Three Poems by Sam Rasnake

Cinéma Vérité
         – 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.

Grievous Angel
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.

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