Jul/Aug 2006 Poetry Special Feature

Two Word Poems

by Arlene Ang

Art by Victor Ehikhamenor

Not So Much the Dark

Years pass and still I fear burglars:
the courteous ones with skullcaps,
crowbars, ski masks, perhaps
a swastika mosaic on their sweaters.

Bedtime was early; I read Mickey
Mouse under the quilt with a penlight,
listened to the hoax of branches
at the window, curtain rustle.

Downstairs, my mother on her rocking
chair stroked the tabby on her lap.
Her voice through the door a thirst
of hisses: hes coming, he's coming.

It was wartime, the house only half
a woman and child. Nightly,
she left tea and biscuits in the kitchen,
hoping to slow one or two of them down.


The Twenty-First Secret Love Poem

Like the warning in the medical guide
for single parents, mistletoe should
be kept from the reach of children.
We were young and loved indiscriminately.
He swore my fingers hoaxed berries
from his hands, the thirst like stealing
wild mushrooms in the woods.

That year, in the house of his maiden aunt,
eggnog was served early, the leg of deer
turned up in variable shades of brown,
a red cloth dressed her long table.
Candles on silver holders burned courteously
low. Our mothers played cards around
the hearth; everyone cheated that night.

We didn't know we were supposed
to close our eyes. I examined
his curve of jaw, my lips whispery from
devil's food cake. His eyes were a mosaic
of tinsel balls from the Christmas pine.
While we licked our candy canes,
we were careful not to talk too loud.


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