Apr/May 2000 Poetry

Three Poems

by Anne Pepper


iron pyrite

Daddy, eyes
deceive little, a
tongue trickier when
licking false words.

Fall like plaster off
roof of your mouth,
dry the air to sand -
we are desert.

That gold is real, enlacing
your neck, your herring
not red as you hoped, but
bone, white, chipped me.

My mother dislikes
ornate, shiny, fishy things.
This known, I lash to
internal tears, hide a flowing.

I tell you, daddy - never
lie, I can see words glistening
in your pan. We sit as ceiling
sprinkles us in golden dust.


lock up

my mother
ankle-chained herself
to her Singer, wound
its bobbin around her
tapered index finger

watched, waited - planned
its purplish tip welt. I
hear from our neighbors,
who watch binoculared,
from darkened windows

deep-blue in night. She
darns the same gold
toed sock, rips stitches out,
starts over again. Repeats
four times, stops -

smiles warily. Daddyís
still a gold toe man, now
he buys new when pink
nail shines through. Does
not accept change,

writes monthly checks
for motherís shirt-pattern
squares, handkerchief
drapes, calfskin napkins,
ignores a clanking chain.



a thumb no bigger than it
was at age 5, further your whole
right hand, your first act of violence
against the thalidomide.

the first time we met, you
slid into my palm like a tired
fish, the skin scaly and dazed,
small and dry.

that and your cockeyed
smile, the drawl from the right
eye, you saying iím the lizard
boy, i can see out both iís at the

same time. we slept in
separate beds for two weeks
but found strange hook glyphs
in linen sheets, heard jingling

censers, discovered patchouli
between our toes. you called,
said nothing, hung up, kept
a rose scarf in the window for me,

ran away to vegas. i could hear
the exhaust in the vw sputtering
over the border, i wore the scarf
to free breakfast every Sunday.

now i hear your asthmatic
baritone flap open, whistle shut.
you should quit smoking dope,
keeps me awake nights, your flopping
sleep, seventeen hours away.


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