Apr/May 2002 Poetry Special Feature

Four Word Poems

by Taylor Graham


At Madame LeCendrier's

In the wax museum each mock-up
of flesh-in-waiting waits, attired
as it was when it famously walked
the streets at proper hours
(and improper). How seldom, then,
it looked up to see, hovering,
that bright silk parachute, the soul.

Now, each with open wax eyes
forever searches the dark ceiling,
listens for the click of doors,
wishes for a window that might
still open. Listens for a deadly
footfall bearing fire. Soul or
arsonist, anything to strike

a match and burn the whole museum
down; burn every humanoid candle
to its wick; so no wax remains,
and ashes rise, and what comes
drifting down again is nothing
more than a bit of silk rigged up
with ropes and gimmicks.


Above It All

Haven't I wished to sail blue
sky, become cloud or maybe
grass, sandstone, a creek
that flows to ocean? The human
body's mostly water, anyway, or
is it air?

Tonight I have no wings
to watch the evening news:
there's another twister on TV,
houses, barns and trees all
billowing up in a deadly sky
to burst the best
parachute. People picking up
their lives: a photo
from a blown-out past,
a scrap of cloth. Just dust,
somebody says. The screen
flashes his name; it shows
him bending down, scraping
at soil. He brings up
nothing but dirt and a bit
of wax candle, burned
at the long end.

Tonight the wind goes
canyoning through earth's
spaces, chambers of the heart,
corridors of breath. It sings
anybody's name—my name—
before I can click
the truth off.


What the Experts Advise

A parachute at every highrise window,
a plug of wax for any sleepless ear,
the click-on-safety under your pillow,
security that's bred of deadly fear.



Easter candy: the dark secret
of chocolate embedded in wax.

Dandelion seeds on their frail
parachutes, a blizzard of summer.

The click of a gate on gardens,
on lawns of perfumed skirts.

Nothing's so deadly in a glass
as memory.


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