Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Poem Eleven


“CROCODILES CAN JUMP!”

Sunk in the palm frond south’s
lost contentment of discarded
plastic water bottle-wading cows,

the Krakow Buddhist couple playing
backpackers with pirated guidebooks before
next month’s Dharmasala meeting

with the seventeenth Karmapa
aren’t speaking. Again. He’s back
sleeping off last night’s

argument-sparking high at the guesthouse; she’s
with their American travel companion,
a crocodile farm outside Mamallapuram.

In spite of appearances, blanched-
to-gray green logs baking
thicker their stillness in reputation’s steel,

the American’s frayed-staticky
educational television notions of
cold-bloodedness

sees them in constant flux, degrees
shifting between air
and knotty vein in dispassionate exchange.

A Green Tara pendant glints
low on her neck, represents
transformed jealousy.

As a pile manacled by tooth and scale
snaps enlivened at a caretaker-flung
pink chunk of chicken,

she confides she’s considering leaving her man.
“People who get attached to objects
are stupid. People who get attached to

other people well,
it’s sad but understandable.”
Another possibility,

a Tibetan ceremony to have them play
some major role in each other’s
next thousand lives. “Sometimes lovers,

not necessarily, sometimes best friends
or mother and son.” That morning,
before the crocodiles,

visiting a two room orphanage,
drugged-seeming children, each
with an entry in a stained

three-ring binder, most of them
abandoned by parents who could no longer feed them,
or rescued from parents with alcohol problems,

not technically orphans,
he remembered the train station in Madurai, buying
idli for breakfast while the Poles, still holding hands,

bowed secret smiles, saying, “Trust us,”
purchased his ticket, this
town he’d never heard of, now

all bricked up around him: This heat.
On a mouse-chewed jute mat a little girl
sucks her thumb beyond the thumb’s

ability to help. Do not sit on walls!
Keep hands out! Crocodiles--


“What if,” he asks, “one does jump?
And what if it just keeps going up?

Why don’t you two
just make up?”

7 Comments:

At 5:18 PM, Blogger DBD said...

As usual, I really like your ability to write a narrative poem without falling into the typical traps of a narrative poem. This moves along, and its language is spare...there aren't a lot of chains hanging off of it.

I wonder, perhaps, if you need the last two lines? Or the last four? Or maybe they're perfect... That's a cop-out, I know...I just need to think on them a bit...

great stuff...

 
At 4:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have a really amazing collection of travel photos. I always wonder what the next one will be. Never did I expect flying crocodilians. That shot is better than something out of Wildboyz. If you have cool pics that aren't associated with poems, you should have a photo gallery on this site or something.

t

 
At 11:55 PM, Blogger pete. said...

Um, that's not one of mine, T. Just got it from the internet. I do have some good croc pics from that place, a good pic of the actual "Crocodiles Can Jump!" sign, but I never actually saw one in action. The other photos with the poems have been mine (except for poem 8 and poem 6--but with those I have photos that are almost exactly the same, just didn't feel like diggin' them up). I never really showed the photos, figure having related poems is a good excuse to do it....

 
At 3:25 PM, Blogger P'tit Boo said...

Hey Pete....
Question for you...
What are your top three favorite female poets ?

I want to read more poetry ...

 
At 4:04 PM, Blogger pete. said...

I like Beckian Fritz Goldberg, Ana Swir, and Anne Carson. Off the top of my head...

 
At 3:23 PM, Blogger P'tit Boo said...

Thanks !

 
At 10:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i like this poem a lot. it makes me feel sad, and then less sad at the end.

 

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