Jan/Feb 2009 Poetry Special Feature

Two Word Poems

by Ray Templeton

Artwork by Robert Hoover


Nothing seems as far away as the light.
Once for safe passage, now
it cuts the other way. Entrances and exits

unsettle and confuse—this channel in,
another out—which one's the question.
The guide is vandalized. Damp residues

creeping pallid green on flaking grey,
a splash congealing dark from last night's brawl,
all slick with blown refuse—

and wet leaves, clammy leaves, more leaves
sweat in oil-rainbowed pools.
Metal's rusting to the hollow:

banisters, barriers, railings, and lamps
that mock their own electric glimmer.
This place warns, repels, forbids.

A function is reversed, intention overturned—
allowed to happen.
Nothing seems as far away as the light.


The Green Fairy

Well-oiled, half-alert or less, hat tipped
down to sawdust-covered boards,
she's dead to reflection, unmindful of much,
recently mislaid in what looks
like homemade lemonade, but isn't.
Eyes swim to half-space, where nothing is,
and nothing diverts—not thin, tart smoke
from thin, tart cigarette; not looks
from passing gentlemen; not fists on tables,
empty dispute lapsing into brawl.

Pawn the fancy pumps,
or find energy for open eyes, legs'
chafing stumble into pallid morning?
To spend on what? Encore du fée
or a ticket out, a first month's rent,
new company. The preference rings hollow,
lacks substance, centre. Is that the sound
that's out there somewhere, on the edges?
Is choice's noise like charcoal scratching paper?


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