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JOAN METELERKAMP
five poems

as if my life were defined by impossibility
you say,        you see, as if we were having a conversation
and now I must go on talking to myself
as if nothing else could accommodate this
             this, or come into a conversation between a dead man
and a dead woman
poets, not lovers but only because sex
didn't come into it:
"can we settle for an integrity that does not allow the shapings of desire?
of desire that threatens exactly what we can stand by?"

can I come
to love
I want to write, to say
as in wanting to see, to see through to,
see, as in wanting to dream and wanting
to feel the dream all day like music dreamt.

intransigence I write, instead, distance -
stubborn disbelief, as if this could settle desire
       the words coming
like without any regret, any foolishness,
like out of a dream
like I dreamt, literally, just a fragment, two words,
artistic praxis

*

can't find a way through the voices
you say, speaking with the voices
loud, like through thin walls when you want to sleep -

can't find a way through
like the boy through the traffic
not asking the truck to stop
but stroking its tyres as it comes
slowly to rest
and the driver leans out of the cab
to shout at the vehicle in front of him
and the young man, the boy, really, strokes the wheel like
let me pass, wait, for a moment your huge weight
for a moment, at rest, at home,
stopped, for a moment, let
             go.

*

like a seed to know even less
than I think I know -
still spring, still not sleeping
still not penetrating
skin of still sky spring
not even the sea is singing -
not even the sea is swelling, no swell
everything here still, as if it weren't,
nothing present -
(mouth of metal, burning tongue, eyes itching)
spring smelling of semen,
where are the milkwoods,
who teaches the seeds how to break from their membranes
who teaches the semen to come where it needs?

dissolution, dissolving, discontent,
uncontained, inessential, still.

*

this always happens in dreams
I say as I walk along the beach
the water coming in as if the tide could come
in at us from both sides
as if we were on a spur, like at the mouth,
an estuary, and the tide coming in to cut us off -
this always happens in dreams I dream
as if the words were some protection
and they are, they keep my fear, faintly, at bay,
I know I am dreaming and I know
this will be death by drowning
and half of me must know
sweet fire, sire of muse, my soul needs this
like sex and all day
as if I were loved
even though I am afraid
even though the fear is always death
like hidden cancer or AIDS -
like the river of people coming
at me in the dream like in Umtata on a Saturday morning
as we cross at the stop street
half of you dying half of you dead
within the decade.

*

wild seas. species of albatross feeding.
effluent offal of fish-
           gut of sea,
spilling        foam, scud, scum.

what were we saying? -

sea flung loud against the glass
like in the dream I was telling you of reversing down the causeway
and the sea like a wall and a vast wave of course
and my saying as I drank and you smoked
what is this dream telling me how can I tell you
I am only a little poet after all and the afternoon perfect.