FOUR POEMS
by E L Burchfield

 

WEIGHTLIFTING SONG

It must
be ill
to walk
that plank
across
the swamp
and matt
ed rank

It looks
a quar
ter mile
or more
a dog
leg pier
from off
the shore

Needle
spires,
red and
white,
relent
less flash
ing day
and nightó

The mus
cled jack
who climbs
the towers
sometimes
regrets
his earth
ly powers.

I watch
him park
his lone
ly van
and take
the light
bulbs in
his hand

The hor
izon
tal jour
ney seems
pream
ble to
exalt
ed dreams

The blue
pontoons
like pow
der kegs
discharge
his ac
robat
ic legs

The pon
toons bounce,
the sea
gulls cry,
and fold
their prayers
into
the sky

 

 

COPELANDS

The white brick
chimney across the street
unfolds
a black smoke
fitted sheet

Arthritic suet
and colic air
adjust
the darted corners
there

A tongue
extends to
lick the curb
and write a neoprene-coated
blurb

The bus
on dromedarian
knees
dismounts
a favored amputee.

My window
wraps
a narrow view of
all that I
imagine new

What
populates this
cone of vision
lacks sufficient
contradiction

Were
I availed
a second scene
perception
would become a screen

And
just
when I might loathe the day,
reality
could go astray.

The sky
blots out the
light above and gives
the afternoon
a shove

Materials
and vapors
teem
like chewing
gum and Vaseline

A cloud
Laputa, mauve
with pain,
nails water
to a sewer drain

The
liquid crowds
the iron sleeve,
wanting desperately to leave.

 

 

ALL WHITE MEAT CHICKEN

Testament on the
Third Avenue bridge:
Gertrude Stein whispers
in ad mensí ears,
comforts them, then culls

their punctuation.
all white meat chicken
it says under a
bun as big as
a Fedex truck.

What does it mean? Hard
to say. I canít see
it anymore from the
the bus and subsist
on imaginary

sentence diagrams.
It could mean:
all white-meat chicken
indicating that
only breast meat from

a known and edible
bird can satisfy
corporate sandwich
requirements. But
it does not say that.

It could mean:
all-white meat chicken
clarifying that
the sandwich only
comes from capons, which

are more accurately
considered meat
chickens than your
roosters and hens. But
it does not say that.
It could mean
all-white meat: chicken
suggesting that the
dark meat of chickens,
and only chickens,

has been bleached and then
mixed with white meat to
achieve optimal
sandwich whiteness. But
it does not say that,

either. Maybe the
slogan doesnít have
a fixed meaning,
maybe the caption
functions in consort

with the meat, by
which I mean it is
a tautology.
The slogan behaves
how the meat behaves,

that is, the slogan
mirrors the meatís
condition as
logical proof of
its ambiguity.

Poetry! What a
joy to see over
the Harlem River,
words and images
hovering on air

 

 

A FABLE

See the cat negotiate the barbeque grill
while never losing sight of the squirrel.

The scene develops slowly
as if on rails, like that shot in A Touch of Evil: the lowly

camera inching forward, clove
to the ground, then suddenly up and over

a building parapet.
The third leg, now the fourth, come free and set

themselves in relation to
the relevant issues:

the back fence, the pine tree, the unkempt lawn,
the basement window drawn

open a crackóand that done
last week, to let a squirrel out. Iím sure itís the same one.

The deck, still wet from last nightís rain, shows a matte
trail of the catís

clear thinking.
The squirrel buries his face in the grass, the terminal radius shrinking.

Other events warrant my attention.
I lack the animus of apprehension.