John Surowiecki

Mr. Z. Dies in His Blue Velveteen Chair

He smokes an L&M, watching a cooking show:
a man in a cravat sings as his wife braises a shank of veal.
Dogs, stupid animals, are barking somewhere
and his poor pigeons are pacing their coops.

The wild grapes are fat and dark this year;
so far the robins haven’t discovered them, although he
knows they will eventually: a blur of orange and brown
and then glimpses of vacant black-dot eyes.

His chair embraces him with its bulky blue arms,
grape-blue with its own silvery bloom; his cigarette
has burned into his leg; the man spoons out marrow;
the robins have come and gone.

Sister Ruth Picks Lice from S.Z.s Head

L’enfant se sent, selon la lenteur des caresses,
Sourdre et mourir sans cesse un désir de pleurer.

—Rimbaud, Les Chercheuses de poux

S.Z. refuses to cry, drowning
in the folds of the nun’s black sleeves.
The other children are red-eyed
and even the tough guys are quiet.

She dips her fingers in kerosene
and the sweet smell makes him queasy.
Her breath burns the backs of his ears;
her nails move like plows across his scalp:

a click here, a click there,
that’s all there is: no real pain at all,
only the sarcasm of her caress
and the embarrassment of being unclean.

About the author

12.4 (Summer 2008)   The 2River View