Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tim Upperton, "Like smoke"

Tim Upperton

Like smoke

you say a poem is nothing
but a crib with a dead baby inside

or a cage for animals extinct
in the wild the words pace

up and down up and down uselessly
walking the line and aren’t you tired

of that can’t you just let it be
different but it isn’t and you start

another poem about something
because some things are very serious

things you’ve lost for instance you wish
you still had them but you don’t

they’re gone that winter that girl
said yes and in her room it was so cold

the word lingered around her head
like smoke and how good that was

for a while and later she told you all
about her family in that town that one

day you thought you’d visit just drop
by and her father in jeans and workshirt

sitting there on the porch and a yellow
dog at his feet the both of them not exactly

pleased to see you but not displeased either
but she never mentioned a dog at least

you don’t think so and anyway you write
off a line that is about that losing things

I mean and missing them the girl I guess
and in a funny way her dad you never

quite met and the dog and you’re now
in the middle of you don’t know what

but you’re walking up the path and there
are hollyhocks and lavender it must

be summer and there she is opening
the screen-door and stopping suddenly

she’s seen you but it’s all right and the rest
will come because that’s how it goes

one line then another one and this one
it may change of course this one says

the coloured rags of our remembering
and you wonder did I write that did I

read it somewhere is it mine or someone
else’s when it needs my mouth

and your ears and the brain and heart
of both of us it is I see now a pentameter

and yes iambic too I am becoming
the flutter in the blue baby’s chest

Earlier version published in Takahe 60, 2006

Tim Upperton has poetry and fiction published or forthcoming in Agni (US), Best New Zealand Poems 2008, Bravado, Dreamcatcher (UK), Landfall, New Zealand Books, New Zealand Listener, North & South, Sport, and Takahe. His first poetry collection, A House on Fire, was published by Steele-Roberts in 2009.

RECONFIGURATIONS: A Journal for Poetics & Poetry / Literature & Culture,
http://reconfigurations.blogspot.com/, ISSN: 1938-3592, Volume Three (2009): Immanence/ Imminence

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