Turners Poems I-V
Saturday, January 21, 2012 at 8:58AM
Nina Rossi

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.





Article originally appeared on Nina's Nook and Nina Studio (http://www.ninastudio.net/).
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