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Apr/May 2002 Poetry Special Feature

Two Word Poems

by Julie King


 

Never-quite-ex

Carole Lombard died in a plane crash.
I learned that from a docu-drama I watched
late last night, sleepless, nerves tied into bows.
Now I sit in 2E, flying somewhere over Cuba,
thinking about Lombard's safe, good marriage,
Gable gathering her headless body and bringing it home.

In one hour I'll land in San Juan, my ears
smarting from pressure and wax as you wait
in your Gap jeans, reading Marquez in English.
Or maybe you won't be waiting at all.
We dance this Macarena every time I visit,
and sometimes I'm too tired to clap my hands.

The plane shimmies its hips and snaps
its fingers, and I think we're going down.
Where is the exit row? What parachute did
I pack just to float safely down to you?
What parachute could Gable possibly give
Lombard, stronger than loving her to death?

If I'm on firm ground in twenty minutes,
and if you're there, I'll climb into your 4 x 4,
the door closing with that solid "click" I hear in my sleep.
You'll turn up the chacha on the radio, my ears will pop
with air-splitting bass, and we'll roar into bumper-to-bumper
traffic, riding in just one more thing metal and deadly.

 

Fifteen

She was smashed by a black motorcycle
while crossing a neighborhood street.
How could he not see her, a girl

in frayed bell-bottoms and a Led Zeppelin
tee-shirt? She landed on her back, her yellow
hair parachuting around her scalp bleeding dark,

spitting out bits of teeth that clicked
in her mouth like Monopoly dice, and opened
her eyes to a different sun that was a little

waxy around the edges, burning slow,
and felt stoned in a took-her-mama's-pills sort
of way. This isn't so bad, she thought,

and wished she could tell her mama
how being sent airborne was comforting,
kind of like being pushed on a swing

when she was small, and that her mama's palm,
before it slapped her face, sometimes looked
like it might smooth down her hair instead.

It was the landing that was deadly.

 

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