Thursday, March 27, 2014

Rhonda Douglas

Kimono Exhibit at the Museum of Civilization

 All the ways I have loved you:

i.              Shunyo: Cherry blossom
                beckoning at the waterside,
                opening day of spring.

ii.             Kyoko: Spellbound anticipation.

iii.            Gea: Illusion.

iv.           Ohn: Consummation, shrouds of mist.

v.            Kou:  Change. 
                Mount Fiji meditating on gold.
                Cold and tender dawn.

vi.           Hiwacha: The uncertain hour --
                turning over between fall and winter

vii.          Ai: Obliteration.

viii.         Sei: Blue trace of hope
                in sudden snow.

Simple Instructions

Welcome home. When we meet
tonight, please have eaten.

Let’s not waste time on salad,
cheese or the spaces between words.

I’ll have patience only to watch you eat
olives, brush tongues to know what the tart earth tastes like.

Wash. Prepare the body as for a night
out spent in. Put the passport with

its middle name mystery in a drawer, remember
who you are when not away.

Wayfarer, is there some place you have not been?
Hafiz says there is a great expanse of territory

where all rivers flow into the forested valley of your forever
longing, lit by fairy lights. Lay down irony now, take me to your bed.

Set your fears at the door as shoes on the stairs of a mosque.
Have some faith they will be there when you return. 

Short Treatise on the Nature of Drafts (Version 8)

You intended to go to Paris, or the Costa del Sol: tickets, check; passport, check. At 1 in the morning it seems all the varied and fascinating details of your life will culminate in this one trip. But waking – late, befuddled – you find that despite your best efforts with a compass and a map, here you are in the middle of goddamned downtown Milwaukee. You can’t figure a way out. You may be lost for days, or the trip may be abandoned.

You’re Michelangelo working in Fimo clay.

You meant to work harder on it, or longer, or wake up earlier, or just toss it off between the dentist’s visit and your own self-care, but not having had the time you’re happy still to claim it as yours because who could blame you for that crucial missing bit in the middle, that part right at the pivotal turn which now careens in disorder but one day soon will be a silver Porsche 911 licking the Italian coastline. 

Never let the draft drive.

Your draft is a toddler with a lisp and a club foot and will be just fine, thank you, if only you can manage to let it grow into itself. Don’t rush – a precocious draft is anathema; the trick is to grow up with all virtues intact.

You must approach a draft with trepidation, the tentative toes of a young ballerina in her first pointe shoes – the shiny pale pink of all the tender things untried. Have you noticed how a woman’s nipples darken after she’s had her first child? True also of drafts. Meaning every sexy thing takes its own sweet time.

If you would love a draft, take a nap with it and stroke its temple tenderly while it sinks into its happy place.  Don’t offer directions, the draft must find this place on its own.

Like everything else you’ve ever loved, the draft expects your attention even in the moments you are half-asleep, even when you’d rather be doing something – anything – else, even when you’re trying to forget it, even when you would lie and say you have forgotten it, it was just a fling, you barely remember its name. 

The draft loves your lying self the way a footballer loves the ref.

And they shall know a draft by its myriad complications. 
The draft has a maze only the gardener can love.

Don’t say you should have known better. 
Admit defeat only if useful, only if it will feed the hungry draft.

Rhonda Douglas is the author of Some Days I Think I Know Things: The Cassandra Poems (Signature Editions, 2008 and the forthcoming short fiction collection Welcome to the Circus (Freehand Books, 2015 She is currently finishing her second poetry collection “For” and a selection of those poems were featured in The New Quarterly’s Spring 2013 issue ( You can find her on Twitter: @shallicompare.


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