CONJUNCTIONS: A Web Exclusive


Five Poems
Ange Mlinko


Camouflage


1.

Babyclothes made of camo—
There should be a Lysistrata in the forsythia.


2.

That blue one’s a suitcase fluttering midair:
satin within, camo without.
It’s a security measure.

Just in case one hitches to your jacket you exit
by an antechamber, examined,

sent on your way morpho-less

and carrying nothing over, leave the airport

metaphorless.



Clarity


“I wrote to Fields requesting books…”

—The fields demurred. A transom dissolved
in the fog over tennis courts.
Condensation from the major tributary
carried its signature scent into clouds,
soft-focus clouds—all eyes are on history.
It rained down infusing the leaflitter,
goldshedding obsolescents,
and in the gingivitis of the riverbank
a muddy smile hid what’s still
paddling up time in a Pennsylvania
stoneground dawn.

Every day the sky reenacts the battle of Valley Forge.

Inside a pod that ran with marshmilk
a neat little bed of floss with seedheads
tightly latticed lay til loosed by fingers
they took heavily to wind. Lots of fluff
jutting from odd stalks fox-soft
could have made a beeline to the clouds
unfocused, as if all eyes were on history
or the Great Swindle wherein developers
gobbled chunks of the conservancy.

Dramatically insignificant towns surround us.

When dark came it came from treestands,
windbreaks so dense the night that oozes
from them’s spiked with balsalm.
In the light of this blur I saw a face
becoming hideously abstract
in former pastures where billboards
advertised right in the viewshed of
houses they were selling. Cancel the headlights.
A face buttoned-to with bees is wheezing
from nicotine, autumn, losing circulation.
Because all eyes are on history
we exist to ourselves at our own periphery
hence “I went straight home to my motel”
and wrote this song.



Minus Iridescence


Shall we dust the woods? Unfashionable mystics

where dust is glued back into logs …

But like dust, into each and every one of these
houses puffed up along the shoreline
with their gambrels,
umbrellas, princess sleeves
we’d move in. And into
the interglacial history
of their foundations infinitesimally sink.


If it’s riding
the ferry you like, look at this machine
for smoothly interleaving waters
that by meticulous attention to braiding spindrift
propels itself forward.
Lean in to hear the man with the
“Great Bluefish Tournament” tee
point out the visible rip
to his companion blocking the
flat-screen, a CNN talkfest
dissolving into weather.
Three systems line up in the tropics.
Gustav, Hanna, and Cristobal.
                  This bed is too big,
                  this bed is too small,
                  this bed is just right!

… they end up rumpling everything.


In the story the mother
fell asleep inside the bedtime book
and her son, afraid
she’d hibernate til spring,
shook the pages, blew on them,
even doused them in water

but in truth the enchanter’s curse
had me rummaging
through the sale of deconsecrated books
and not one I wanted to get lost in!

Dreams contract to such facts as,

for instance, there used to be a reservoir
where now there’s a store.

The strains of a Celtic music festival
finish a thought about lingering

so we drift toward the docks
—the gaiety, the fetor—

songs at least as alive as mussels.



Vanitas


Shit I couldn’t take my eyes off those rip-off
Hitchcock shots
and the ersatz ice-queen.

The script says,
The sun thrusts stems and leaves
of light into the pool.


The arrangement’s quite lovely, a glow of
lemon white and aquamarine
spilling into the air, a centerpiece
round which are arrayed
the beachtowels, flipflops, goggles —
accoutrements of the pleasures of peace.

But the swimmers just keep on splashing
and the starlings and sparrows
utterly disregard each other


August
siphoned from eternity to this dump
of greenness where the sweet birds sing
and the deer at the birdfeeder angles his head
just so so I can see the way the ears and nose
array to form a perfect aerial
to receive signals of danger—mine
full of interference


Why do we stand on the beach misting in sympathy with a horizon?
Flaps trapezing instantly conform to gulls.

Then
at night, drawn by the light of a twenty-seven-inch television set
an insect silhouette
imposed
on inviolable cellulose.



Postcards from a Last Resort


1. These Swart Knolls

Dusk falls on Hershey, Pennsylvania, on
brushed steel cylinders, conveyor belts
pristine as the screwlinks of a Rolex watchband
and satin chocolate in liquid sheets;
on the singing trio of puppet cows,
on the tourists in bucket seats moving on magnetic tracks
and on the phalanx of sun-colored logos
from Halloweens
and drugstore shelves. It falls
on the motel named for the mogul,
but far from basking in the reflected glory
of his entrepreneurial spirit,
with dark red doors and steep backstairs to the “cocoa suite,”
curtains’ sepia pull-cords,
bulb-light, trash in drawers,
it squats, nor does a view of a pool
within its plain fencing framed with lush weeds
buoy—


2. The Surf Haven, the Harbor Mist, The Whitecap, the Sea Foam, the Windrift

The Sea Star.
The Blue Marlin.
The Pink Champagne.
The fake palm trees
—no, not the name of a motel
but the actual fake palm trees
do not require a woman
with a cigarette and a caftan
to water them,
though she does emerge
from her quarters behind
the Manager’s desk
to survey the October weather
registering in the plastic fronds;
when asked if she stays
through the winter she responds,
“No, too dead.”


3. The distance between The View from Nowhere and Put Me in the Zoo

… The pinetum and what have you.
I cannot always be anxiously keeping my accounts.
With a sky bitten around the edges
to show us we’re in Nature,
who’s to say the book a two-year-old holds out to me,
Put Me in the Zoo, is,
of intellectual instruments, the kazoo
whereas The View from Nowhere is the cello,
low, low its voice, modest
as if buying stock in Lindt chocolates, for example,
were no worse a thing—
From that book on my night stand
children march with their classmates in a double strand down
the main allee.
Tour groups curl around the focal points.
The Japanese visitors have RSVP’d
the genius loci
by means of their signal attire.
But we don’t have to reduce the mental to the physical.
We can have a dual-aspect theory
where I am not a private object,
and pseudocamellias are permitted their fractal of irony.
Next, Ponderosas’s upper reaches are blackened
as if a smoke painter traced a torch there
(and we do imagine this to be
an area of highbrow graffiti).
Because those pinecones are more like us
than we are like the 500-million-year-old
outcrop of gneiss and schist
around which we manicure narcissus
the parade of children seen
about twenty minutes ago
are now louche high schoolers swarming the café.