Readings in Contemporary Poetry

Susan Wheeler

The Dogwood and the The

	“And in the center of the outer edge of each petal there
	will be nail prints, brown with rust and stained with
	red, and in the center of the flower will be a crown of
	thorns, and all who see it will remember....”
	 -from various postcards, “The Legend of the Dogwood”

The dazzling platters of the many-armed man,
The hundred plates spinning on the hundred spun fingers,
A trick whip Step ON it you soft in the skim of your skin--

The eye becomes inured to gaud. The bellicose kids fort up
The grand screen. Cool, summa, wahm in the winta--
Hey asshole! Take ya stringy hair out! The quarter’s in,

The blip’s on Calvary, the lamps of the memory palace under
Glass blink up at Ig. They were each a dipsy-doodle at heart
And the night washed in like ink. Summer bun it drive me

Crazy. And he said, prosper beneath the blue water tank.
And they said, the fugger got it on hisself. And I said,
Wait in the glen. A minute so I. Catch up wif you.

The tree don’t know from passion. A stun gun blusts and
Blood scats in the glass, one player beating with his fist in time--
There has been a casualty. The bereaved will have their needs.


from SMOKES, Four Way Books, 1998