Charles Freeland

from Bad Luck Mérimée


The circle stops three quarters of the way to completion, 
other wards in New Orleans with similar geometry 
housing soul and ghost. They dissolve into cane brake and loose sand. 
Echoes might cease here as well or make their professional debut 
using tape recorders to capture their encounters. No one is certain. 

I check my watch. It has stopped trying to juggle raising its twin daughters 
and there are no batteries which might return the county’s tallest title 
from neck to underarm to groin. I step into the scrub and sand 
where the circle has terminated and expect immediately to be surrounded 
by stinging insects and interrupted vistas. Those who line the horizon, 
who would meet once a week outside class to discuss Ceromitia mitrata, 
barely alter their appearance. Someone is waving from the other side. 
I think. It is hard to tell because, as of the census of 2013 
there were 402 people living there. A disembodied fear appears 
like the Kenan Visiting Writer researching in Ulvshale 
or a fighter jet buzzing low over your picnic. I am practiced at neutralizing it,
hunting on the ground for ovulids or false cowries, after all those years 
of family members jumping from the shadows to startle me, 
to introduce me to yet another member of the Isosceles Club,
and, of course, that stint in prison.  


The train whistle a final declaration of faith as preface sounds 
like naked pink and newborn young choking on their own emotions, 
the beef offal or chicken added as part of a one-year agreement. 
It is a sound like someone’s lover newly come from the Zero Point border station  
calculating literacy rates and the ultimate armchair ride 
with genuine consequences for those who hear it, who stumble endowed 
with superior memory and a weaker form of the Urdu virus 
from the tavern to the streets to the cul-de-sac where 
the households all use archaic spellings for the word “weasel” 
and are some of the most frequent targets of artillery. 

The magnetite nearby can disrupt navigational compasses, 
landing you in the wrong bed. 
The owner whispers creeping vole-like conspiracies in his sleep, 
pursuing tax evaders through a castle and a palace on top of a mountain. 
My hands have no hair on them. Not simian, but porcelain 
and I am embarrassed. I try to hide them beneath Byzantine 
linens but I need my hands to perform certain functions 
like turning doorknobs and handling the jewelry the man studying Euclid 
while working in his uncle’s bank tries to sell me whenever he sees me. 
Earrings with bright emerald variations like the skin of a dragon 
with Finnish as its mother-tongue, the thin tin rings hammered out
in the town two counties over with the modest outsider’s gallery at the center
and the faint aroma of slaughtered hogs.


All tunnels on the north border terminate at Pony Canyon 
allowing the police time to train their hounds 
installed lengthwise within the frame. 
They shore up the popularity of swamp music 
increasing their resolve, a show of defiance and love. 

We throw rocks displacing 5th vertebra 
from the highest properties and districts listed as pre-Portuguese, 
outcroppings, skeletal remains selectively binding and purifying 
the target organisms until they fall harmlessly to earth like paper airplanes, 
all but those destined to shatter a quartet 
of Mihael Stroj’s genre works and three hothouse panes. 

Explosive plumes of steam transform your poignant interview, 
transferred by deed or will, into the likeness of a bald man 
whose loose bolts were able to escape inspection 
and then dissipate from the scalp down. There is nothing left 
but the bitter scent of marigolds and travertine pools, 
the last great castrato roles and a cackling from the east.  

Appointed one of the arbiters, I incorporate the sounds revolving 
around the fallout rate of a given funnel.
They arrive there ahead of me just the same and stake out 
their optional histories otherwise unremarkable, space in the shadows 
between the escalator and an arcade of native oak, 
the statue of Marcus Aurelius with scarlet and green Mardi Gras beads 
draped about its throat. 

Time to re-assess the value of dreams, to write up my dear ones 
and searchlight, to cut down on the vandalism, if nothing else. 
Announce the daughters of prominent socialists from Lomza 
and the space-time-space conversions and rounding errors 
of the sort that originate in polite compliments and childhood mischief 
at the strip mall, and terminate in the faerie ether 
become the very vault and regular edition of myth, of bridge abutments 
with Venus on them, someone’s ugly widow.      

Charles Freeland lives in Dayton, Ohio. 
His website is The Fossil Record (charlesfreelandpoetry.blogspot.com).
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