Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Jan Conn: Two Poems

Spotlights, Not Daylight

He’s backed up against
an extraordinary block of black.
The situation—bright flesh tint—
calls for boldness but he is
stock still, songs
logjammed in his throat.
The family room fills up
with the tang of fruit flies.
Rows and rows of light bulbs
on the ceiling like at a casino.
The sockets are zapped.
His friends are not at home, but
pressing themselves unwillingly
facedown on the shimmering asphalt,
cocaine in a pocket.
Now he is naked inside a deep
charcoal grey, magnetic weight
on his chest. It’s late in the afternoon.
With his throat he makes a sound.
Out in the yard he and his friends
used to take turns dying, extra points for
the most disgusting ketchup substitute.
A door opens. An hour passes.
He thinks about scrambling
up onto the roof where the laundry
snaps and flutters, freeing the shirts,
then his friends from cocaine
and danger. He sees them
running through the streets,
just like that.


Light Strikes What it Can

Those who inherit the loneliness of the North Pole
must speak or break.
The little kid warms his hands in an ice bucket,
feet in a dream of the Arctic Ocean,
driving an iceberg
across golden tundra into a black so dense
it sparks and stutters.
Elements of a melody
arrange themselves overhead, half-remembered—

Below a certain temperature
sounds amplify, shift spectra, alter childhood hearing
so he doesn’t react¾much¾
to the faint-faint crunch of crackled snow.
Plains undulate north, indecipherable
in tarnished medium grey, horizon-grey,
their beauty weightless but registering in his mind.
The hunter is motionless, hidden. The bears, if present,
are the same scruffy white as the snow. 


Jan Conn is a Canadian poet and biologist. She investigates Latin American mosquito population genomics at the Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health in Albany, NY.

Conn has written eight books of poetry, most recently Edge Effects, 2012. Her book South of the Tudo Bem Cafe, 1990, was shortlisted for the Pat Lowther Award. Conn is a member of the collaborative poetry group Yoko's Dogs whose first book, Whisk, was published by Pedlar's Press in 2013.
   about Jan Conn   ....  about Yoko's Dogs 

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