Sarah Yasin

Nightdriving

 

The deliberated anxiety of a midnight drive

clothes me in private resplendence.

Oncoming headlights blur, then taillights

 

scream across my field of vision.  I try not

to look at every streetlight, but fail; over-

head spotlights leave tracers, neon orange

 

ribbons of cherry-ends on acid.  Troubles

emerge from all angles.  Even the shoulder

menaces paranoia: what if the ground’s

 

not solid to the side, what if it’s quicksand? 

Ah sand, gravel, gravy, or some midnight-

nightmare moat made of baby toads waiting

 

for a motorist to slip, waiting for me to slide

and hydroplane across a horde of miniscule entrails,

pitching me across the city in an unholy swan dive.

 

How many cars would I take with me

in the latenight crash?  How many metal fixtures

would scrape against the windows?  The anxiety

 

is excellently endless, the combinations

multiply as physical possibilities for mayhem

mutate and expand, retract then return with

 

heightened threats for each new inch travelled.

I crouch behind the wheel, paw along the dash

in search of succor, salve for this strained crescendo:

 

a class of stress that almost borders on pleasure

when I locate relief in two primal sumptuous

stimulants: Scandinavian death metal and

 

a Marlboro.  I switch on the cd.  Inscrutable lyrics

make declarations but I forget the words

are foreign and for a moment  I wonder

 

have I gone insane?

Then I realize it’s not my mother tongue

like sometimes when people speak but

 

make no sense and I wonder what’s wrong with

my mind and spirit, then I realize my eyes

are heavy and a cigarette is all I need, right here

 

in the truck.  The flotsam of both music and smoke

billow out the window and I squint to see the next

potential crash or soft shoulder rollover

 

across a peripheral swath of toad guts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Passamaquoddy 

 

At first I didn’t notice owl eyes

stretched across his face,

an invisible band pulling at his brow,

marking his inheritance,the legacy of Samoset. 

 

At first I saw restrained glances,

heard measured words of fondness. 

 

Later, we joined in play beside

riverbanks, cast smoothed-sharpened arrows

aimed at a mythical destination.

Only then did I see his portrait

as in museums, his face a calumet

issuing an edict of love for the ages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post-Anthropos  

 

After the extinction of people,

polar bears in captivity

break out of their controlled habitats

and let out all the other animals

trapped inside zoos the world over. 

 

Freed, the ivory bears

download novels by Hemingway

and play poker at biker bars.

They stock hockey rinks with bottles of coke

(there’s so much coca cola for them)

and play rock ballads from the 1980s over the intercoms.

They bring in some dancing bears from traveling circuses

and set up brothels in the penalty boxes. 

 

Certain fatalistic bears among both species

lament the impurities of their pedigrees

that will surely follow from uncaged intermixing

between polar bears and dancing bears. 

 

The thing the polar bears really miss

           (because they run out so wickedly quickly 

           after people)

are klondike bars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Russian Lady

 

Says she is only 27 she

colors her hair black

to hide the grays and plans her life

so she is never alone she

wants attention she wants someone

to read her thoughts and offer 

gifts relinquish his treasure and

his people as a token of admiration

and refuse her if she asks for harmful

things when she brings home a man

who doesn't beat her a gentle

man who thinks her vacant heart

is artistic who is not depleted

by her malcontent she writhes and

screams and pushes him down the stairs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wordsworth’s Razor 

 

I’ve kept vigil for the mythic tranquility

wordsworth requires for a Good Poem,

the silence he says that’s needed

before recalling a moment of intense passion.

But every time I pick up my pen

to take down an indelible mark

(a happy tattoo branded in my heart) 

 

passions are stirred

and tranquility

becomes a brass band in a mardi gras parade. 

 

The music inflates to handel’s messiah, and everything

around me shuffles as in concert hall seats: 

spider plants, clouds, goats, and garage doors

let their playbills drop to the floor as they

stand for the hallelujah chorus.

Thus distracted, I surrender to the noise:

throw down the pen, scrape back the chair, and rise

to join the revelers in their magnificent crescendo.