Apr/May 2007 spotlight

Four Poems

by Ray Templeton

Artwork by KOB ONE


The Early Days

For years, I lived
high in a tall cabinet,
between some novels
and an out-of-date almanac.
If I stretched out my arms,
I could touch any volume,
dangle my legs over the edge.
At night I watched the illustrations—
they would flicker
in the half-light from the hall.
Some days, I'd hear voices
or maybe see a hand, hovering.
It never worried me—
such comfort in the grain
of old, varnished wood.


On King Street

What if the hall at the top of the outside stairs
had stayed?—hoarding its seasons around
an enclosure made of broken air,
as stone walls shuffled back to sand.

Still framed on all three sides, waiting doors
would open into empty territories:
on the left no painted fireplace, in front no bed,
on the right no window that looks out into trees

—those down too, now, cut to kindling.
A slant of sun there, in the rain even,
reaches through gone branches, to music
from lost corners, and the dust rising.



Conserve your ideas
with your energy—
wear an extra layer, buck
the winter chill and mock
those days when nothing comes.

Wash in cold water,
write in daylight,
reuse the backs of letters
from your creditors
and banks. Get out
whenever possible, absorb
the positive emissions
from soft mud tracks
and evidence of early settlements.

Then, see what happens—
the words come, fancy creatures
tapping at the French doors.
More than just those aerials,
black against the sky,
can draw down dreams.



Maria navigates the streets;
walks the empty regions
with the wind moving, shifty as a wave.

Her landscape's changing, evolving
different narratives. She knows now,
the city pulls some people down;

they strike those poses—threatening,
distant—when all the time
they're stuck like samples on a slide.

But Maria's in flux, no longer caught,
starting to probe now, ears alert
to words' evasion—playful, cracked, anarchic.

She always understood the sun, but now
cooperates with tides and the moon,
tries shapes, positions, ways of saying.

In this new light, she's charged and ready.
She's hearing each fragmented voice,
feeling every pulsing rhythm.

Something is unraveling.
What if a world could disappear like that—
leave only remnant streaks of hazy gray?


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