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    Turners Poems I-V

    Turners I


    I am a stranger and I live here.

    could be

    Newburgh, Orange, Bellows Falls,

    all those silent sisters with their hair shorn,

    and pustules and trolley tracks on their

    brick red faces hung in prayer over

    main street, frowning above the

    prickly cheeks of empty lots...

    Couldn’t be Chicago, New York

    Couldn’t be picturesque, eccentric, lucky or rich

    but still she glows Kodak in the evening,

    the sky bouncing red from wall to wall and

    Hopper in the morning geometry of windows:

    depression green trim, closed shades with circlestring pulls.


    At noon the striped chrysalis awnings of stores

    have still not been violated and some wake up remorseful. 

    A light blinks by the bridge: yellow, red, go

    shopping carts twist ankles in gutters

    or hide along alleys

    or clack in chrome herds on corners waiting to cross over

    or wait for midnight grocery ranchers

    or the first of the month

    or just something grander than beer cans from here to there,

    diapers at the dollar store, dirty laundry Fridays,

    Saturday round-ups at the corner ( L and Third).


    There, a windfall confetti lies on poverty:

    scratch tickets shining gold, silver, red

    through the storm drains

    three cans of Reddi Whip, a flip flop,

    a shoe, a sword , a spoon

    garbage tarot under the Gravel Moon.













    Turners II


    Here nothing stops the nails from being sucked

    slowly out of the wood.

    Here, the tipped edge of a dream juts into the river,

    a triple decker porch splinter sharp and dangerously leaning.

     I have been here at least long

    enough to know what repeats itself .


    Three blond girls are

    done with dolls. They ring

    doorbells, know what to say.

    Up and down the street barefoot on an old bike.

    Their hair is long, and they eat whenever.


    I told myself and I tell myself

    read, stranger, read loudly through it!

    Throw watermelon vowels and telephone pole T’s.

    Walk through it and lay waste to it!

    Let that tongue roll and crack among it like

    a long grey summer sidewalk.

    Give it words and names, stranger,

    give it something worth stealing.

    Be full of saying and loving it

    the greasy stranded sadness of it

    the menopausal freedom of it

    the wabi sabi robbing of it

    the howling rub-and-drubbing of it.


    Three blond girls looking

    for my neighbor’s husband.

    Tell a lie about a dead battery,

    a jump start, their mother’s car.

    Learned their lines and headed on.


    Stranger make a poem here stranger

    live it up and

    take it down

    take it down:









    Turners III


    I know them but I do not know their name

    these weeds with yellow, purple mudras

    on a thousand delicate arms.

    Ownership here means tending lower, duller grasses

     (go away stranger, and rent this instead)


    In my back yard, coal clinkers, rib bones under

    a skin of dirt. A tar paper doghouse filled with hornets.

    Bucket after bucket, meal after meal,

    nothing ever happened here but that it

    loved itself repeating

    loving itself.


    I could

    scream in the night

    I could scream in the night

    as if the factories would wake up

    stomachs churning all that undigested history

    tossing and turning their great heaving bodies along the river:

    fatherless sons.

    I could

    scream in the night

    I could scream in the night

    as if our puny post industrial arms could go in there

    and hammer that big metal back to its awful Jurassic,

    could find out the color of dinosaurs from their bones.


    O the big jangled job of it all runs along my spine as I sleep

    kicking the lazy turbines around under the dark blanket

    of the Connecticut.
















    Turners IV


    It frightens me

    although I have made my hillock chaos

    before this life

    although this is my life

    although it is not.


    Begin the love of it

    never so perfect to live in, begin:

    street howling with the rage of a boy with a pipe.

    movie mad, they say about these kids, movie mad.

    My quiet steps, too, the poem in my hand

    Movie mad, madly moving along

    not brave but yawning wide to its bricks and bitterness

    high as a smokestack and stronger than

    the dream of money still rolling along the river

    but sleepy like a pregnant woman

    glassy with doubling cells: the houses subdivide

    I’ve seen them, odd chambers and endometrium

    of paint crazed, flaking, lead too,

    scraping, crazing me as it enters my mind

    I’m just gobbling up the grand din,

    never changing chances and I blink down town:

    I travel through my heart to the part that beats the child,

    flings the cat by the tail

    walks away, doesn’t look

    or won’t or can’t

    drinks because or not

    and willing lotteries and blame and

    worn elastic, slapping slippers, sneakers with

    a soul so thin -- the dollar store -- a walking town

    plastic sacks and suckers, soda cans march up and down

    the bank, the booze, the PO

    me walking, poem in hand, quietly

    heartstruckblind on central street

    slatted shades, torn and staggering

    criss cross themselves, rattling...

    Everybody drinks, don’t they? beer cans

    in a yard scratched thin, thin as a child’s shriek....

    How is there anything left from that?

    How can there be anything more than

    that morning drink, the sleeping noon, the slower, redder

    burn on into night,

    seizures, seizures and delights.



    Turners V


    in among it all an odd beauty in the bones

    the red brick, the gilded windowpanes of evening,

    the always whispering water falling from the dam

    the steeples rising up above the tin trimmed roofs

    and the hot twinkly nights of summer booming off the brick...


    And this is home,

    And this is home.





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