Oct/Nov 2006 Poetry Special Feature

Two Word Poems

by Arlene Ang

Photo by Jim Gourley

After Richard's Swivel Chair Broke

There was heedless TV snow
in the background. His wife puckered her nose
at the smell. He hadn't showered in days.
Hadn't trimmed his nose hair.
She called him Buzz to her girlfriends.
He knew she even had a name
for the way he twitched his ears: Rapunzel.
He was thinking: I can hear
fruit flies embroider the fruit rot.
He remembered how, as a child,
he drank vinegar directly
from the bottle. First love. And he hadn't
met his wife yet. She came later.
With hydrogen peroxide,
power tools, whiskey in his breath.
Already, he was past the respectable weight.
He was past apologies.
He never admitted to anyone
he'd broken the swivel chair settling down.


A Driving Student Takes a Blind Corner

She smells it
even before she downshifts
into second gear: engine oil and vinegar.
She knows rain always
tattoos in riddles. The wipers
squeak like broken antennae. She rolls
down the window, fishing
for other vehicles. A strand of hair pricks
her eye. She catches herself
in the rearview mirror.
She recalls
how she wrote her name
on the bathroom mirror of the first
married man
she coveted heedlessly.
She turns her head. Left, then right.
As the car turns, she imagines it
embroidering a body count
on the asphalt.
She listens. She is burning
two thousand calories
to feed motion sickness.
On her forehead, a bead of sweat
becomes a fossil.


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