This Many Ways to Please the New Critics(for Nelson Gary, who listened)
On the early July sidewalk
the only thing, a dead thing
its unmoving eye, sentinel to the end.
You’d never know this canary
had been born yellow
her job to hop about
while hardworking men give her the vapors
to fall into the Delphic swoon
to chirp, unbelieved, unheeded
or worse, misunderstood.
The psychopomp can tell you a few things
about being misunderstood.
He can arrive bearing a lottery ticket
of great joy,
and he’ll still have to outfly the scattershot
of the superstitious.
Auspicious is the glowing fruit
what becomes of the knowledge
that slides down the gullet
of Morpheus’ herald?
Creature and contemplation,
do they become one?
There is no beauty
that do not exist,
in inflections that
never crossed my mind
before, during, or after.
Innocence finds the cause
of recurring winter indecipherable.
Beauty in snow, always.
It’s the barbaric cold
innocence does not understand.
Thin men go to their graves
making thin women along the way.
Whistle-clean kisses. A bullet dodged.
Everything that I know about a poem
and all the nobility and love put there
in come to nothing
if a reader commits the Intentional Fallacy.
For my part, I am not supposed to consider
the affect of a reader’s random paranoia
unless the reader tries to kill me.
I – The Sky
for Michael Paul
Answer to today’s mystery: because the
sky across which I fly is made of pain.
It is a terrible sky. We all inhale and exhale
her every moment of every day. She is
benevolent to all, but not to me.
Eventually, the sky wants to kill me.
She will do it slowly with great patience
and in gentle increments, for she is
well practiced in indifference.
When I was five, she taught the world
not to hear me. She refracts the light
away from me so that none will see
who I am, what I am.
As I teach you the vocabulary and syntax
of my world, please hear me. Please see me,
for I am more than what the light that
that spills from the sky allows you to see.
You are a particle. I am a wave.
See me shimmer. See me robbed of my
plumage. See me ford on after both of
my wings have been snapped in two.
Everyone on earth can see me walk,
but a rare few have noticed the wings
that hang limp, gone to atrophy
at my sides. Ask me, who snapped
these wings? I’ll answer that you’ve
startled me. I didn’t know anyone
could see that I have them.
Who snapped my wings?
Breathe in. Breathe out.
Did you feel her love
your lungs with air?
There. You have your answer.
Los Angeles native Amélie Frank is the author of five poetry collections, and her work has appeared in print and on-line in numerous local and national publications. She founded The Sacred Beverage Press with poet Matthew Niblock and has served as a judge for poetry and spoken word contests, a director of the Valley Contemporary Poets, a member of the Beyond Baroque Board of Trustees, and coordinated The Big Picture a documentary photograph of the largest group of Southern California poets ever gathered for a single event. She has received the Spirit of Venice Award (2003), served on the Ventura Arts Council (2004), and in 2007 was honored with a certificate of appreciation from the Los Angeles City Council for her work in the Southern California literary arts community. In 2012, the Board of Directors at Beyond Baroque voted unanimously to honor her the Distinguished Service Award.