Jan/Feb 2008 Poetry

Two Poems

by Jennifer Van Orman

Photo by Steve Wing

The Oven Bill

I give her
a couple of packs
of cigarettes
for my half
of the gas bill.

It's like jail,
she says,
with a half smile.

It's like hell,
I say,
but we're praying.


October's Quarter Moon

Tonight the moon has a dog's face,
a slim green grin. As the beach
fills up with water, I wake
and dreams come apart
like dough,
as measure keeps cities
apart on a map. They disappear, I know.

At night, you change in my mind
the way that heat will change milk,
the way fever will change taste.
The memory of you
cooks slightly and sticks,
makes a cover like skin,
marking me, though it's not what I picked.

Wearing my skin as a coat, not as myself,
I suppose through the years I have
straightened out some,
though I can tell you I have lost
things I would rather keep.

Like the sonar of whales or bats,
I reach for you in the dark
into a space I can't see or shape,
twisted, two-sided, and strange.

My body is over-occupied with itself.
Ribs and lungs, curtains and rods
to cover the gore of a wiggling heart.
Cells swell towards what is outside of me,
though the prayers I have said
are said on my own behalf.
Most things I want, gone or dead.

What dreams disappear like lace
into nightmares just begun?
What flush is it that crosses my chest?
What jumps in the corner or haunts
the window sill?
What electricity makes an insect run?


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