Self-Portrait March 2022
Warring nations mingle in my blood— Russia, Germany, Ukraine, all the great- great somebodies who boarded ships pulled toward America’s promise-paved streets. Their passports all stamped Jew. My heart’s a non-fungible token, encrypted. Needing heat. My eyes hold boat rides on rivers through glittering cities. My finger’s locked as though stuck on a gun. Daily, my legs take me the same loop— kitchen, bathroom, office, street. The mountain dwarfs me as expected. My hands reach for passing dogs. Clients tell me their dreams— wolves, staircases, snow, an open window, terror jumbled with desire. Symbols giving form to need. Outside, premature crocuses open dumbly, unaware of the forecasted storm. The news offers its collection of horrors. How easily beauty is bombed into meme. What are you doing about it? the first spring birds chirp, and no matter what I stammer, a fat brassy crow caws not enough.
Outside our thick locked door, the air grows cold. Fall plays songs of loss. For an encore, cold. Cascade of tangerine and neon pink– The dying sun departs in splendor. Cold nights for the too-long married. The furnace breaks. More than metaphor—the air grows cold. Poe writes his dead love back to him, despite the tiresome raven’s Nevermore, cold and final. Waves swallow the sand. Sun sets. How long will stubborn swimmers ignore cold? The power of love versus the might of power. Who’s stronger, Venus or Thor? Cold, hot, cold, hot—Our wounded planet revolts. Flood. Drought. Plastic-filled whales wash ashore. Cold. Grandma’s crooked fingers, Cossack-blue eyes. Gold chai she always wore. The air grows cold near gravestones. Too late to learn her secret Anatevka dreams. East wind brings more cold. Ukrainian bride strips off her wedding gown, puts on the uniform of war. Cold metal in her hand. Poets sip the Green Fairy, enter delicious stupor, cold. The old unfold chairs and umbrellas. Teens sprawl tanning on the sand, all languor, cold beauty. Truckers wave swastika flags. Books are burned in churches. The hungry implore cold gods. In Stone’s empress daydream, two laws: Have mercy. Plant seeds before the air grows cold.
Russian Soldiers Plant Landmines in Ukrainian Cemeteries
Despite landmines, mourners visit the dead. Strategy is a cold, barren thing. Which commands must be obeyed, which ignored? An army is made up of people. Strategy is a cold, barren thing, measuring success in numbers of stopped hearts. An army is made up of people, some generous, some mean. All want to live. Measure success in numbers of stopped hearts. Count the empty places at tables – Some generous, some mean, all people want to live. Children starving in basements eat their hope. Count the empty places at tables, the houses bombed to blood-streaked rubble. Children starving in basements eat their hope. How inconvenient is the call to help? So many houses bombed to blood-streaked rubble. Despite landmines, mourners visit the dead. How inconvenient is the call to help? Which commands do we obey and which ignore?
©2022 Alison Stone
All rights reserved
…has published seven full-length collections, Zombies at the Disco (Jacar Press, 2020), Caught in the Myth (NYQ Books, 2019), Dazzle (Jacar Press, 2017), Masterplan, collaborative poems with Eric Greinke (Presa Press, 2018), Ordinary Magic, (NYQ Books, 2016), Dangerous Enough (Presa Press 2014), and They Sing at Midnight, which won the 2003 Many Mountains Moving Poetry Award; as well as three chapbooks. She has been awarded Poetry’s Frederick Bock Prize and New York Quarterly’s Madeline Sadin Award.