20150610

Joel Chace


from Mouth


Drifting up a stairwell, mouth:
both its eyes, two ears, one hand, one
leg, with foot.
                               Today it wishes
to say numbers, so it does,
thusly:   numbers.    Just the way it might
say lilacs, or way.


   ф


They ask mouth how it was born.
Again, it says.   “All right, how
were you born?”   Again.
                                              “What
do you mean?”
                               Once more.


   ф


“Why, mouth, your eyes, ears,
appendages?”   Head, face,
arm, hip need them no longer.
Now they are of
me:
           whereof I
speak; whatof I speak.



   ф


Mouth is tired of answering.
This happens since mouth was really
born to interrogate.
                                            Drifting,
again, in a stairwell, mouth
observes, on a landing, two
lovers pressed against a railing.
What [are they]? What [do they do]? What
[physical space do they
inhabit], [and] where?
                                            All other,
unimportant questions
remain unasked.


   ф


Over the metaphor “their love 
is a cataract,” mouth meets
someone who says, “Those words are
comparable.”
                             Mouth’s two eyes
blink.  Blink.  Blink.
                                     To what?
                                                         The person
sketches, quickly, two hearts, equals 
sign, waterfall.  
                              Blink.
                                            Blink.
                                                          Where?


   ф


Against its better instincts,
mouth agrees to play golf.
                                                   All
goes badly.  What with mouth’s one
hand, one foot, the ball ends up
everywhere.  
                           Mouth enjoys most
shouting Fore! out over the course,
though sometimes it’s For! and sometimes
it’s Four!
                    Mouth pauses at this
oddity:  
                 I can say, “There are
three [    ‘s] in my language,” but hand
can never write that.
Mouth continues to play.


   ф


Occasionally mouth 
wants nostrils, but knows
it can’t have everything:
no chiming of resources.
Eyes, ears, hand, leg  —  enough.
                                                              Though
one day hand picks up paper
money from the pavement.  
Mouth studies it closely, then
wonders, If I had another
hand, could one give the other this
money?  
                  Mouth drops the bill, moves on.


   ф



Mouth takes a proprietary
interest in these words:  “But I
do anymore.”  
                             Leg twists
around:  no good.  Whoever
spoke is gone.  Mouth even falls.
But laughs.  Its gift has already
arrived, through the air.
                                               Aye
due…Butt-eye dew…Any
more.  
                More for mouth’s collection.
Yet another mess.  But fine.


   ф


“Think fast!”
                           This mouth never
does.
              Thus, the hurled rock takes out an
eye.  Mind sends pain along.  Hand tries
to touch the gone orbital.
So.  But gone is gone.
                                          Now, then,
this loss is a part of me.
                                            Don’t 
weep, one eye.  Just, more clearly, see.


   ф


Hard it is for hand to shuffle,
deal, hold, and sort.  Single eye must
squint to see.  Mouth, though, enjoys
the game, for awhile, and
especially likes numbers, both
red and black.  Those are all the cards
mouth receives.
                                           3. Red. What
do they mean?  Nine?  Black?  
                                                         “You
lose.  Pay up.”
                              But I have
nothing.  
                    “Then I will take that
ear.” 
              And it is gone.  Mind
suspects a bad pattern.      


   ф


Mouth’s impoverished lease on life:
eye, ear, hand, leg now just on all
one side.  Dizzy-listing.
                                             Mouth finds
it can no longer drift, yet, still
wishing to rise, searches 
for leaned already ladders.
Rung.
             Rung.
                          Rung.  
                                          Poor hand, leg  —
nearly done for.
                                Heaved, finally,
to the roof, mouth sees  —  no going
back:  down, impossibly 
harder.
                  Leg kicks ladder away.


   ф


On the cathedral roof, mouth
takes stock.  
                          Clouds:  gold; blood-orange.  The bells
trembled by this steady
wind.  
                Below, rough fabric of
the city.  In that corner,
black column of smoke rises.
Heightens.  
                          Enlarges.  
                                                  Approaches.
Eye twitches. 
                            Mouth wants
the ladder back.


 
 
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