Earth Stars
The women strap me down
So you won’t fall
Watched me climb
unaided as if on a leather
vault in the center of a gym
A needle in      my hand swells
the women unfold my arms
blue Velcro holds them down
One woman smiles as she ties a belt
around my waist      The bed’s so small
In a moment you won’t care

I won’t see the lighted telescope
slid inside my womb
though after it will feel
as if a child has been hammering
a mallet on bone
inside an ache the same decibel
In the forest    earth stars are small enough
to hide in your hand all five corners
fold into the center sealed like a pie
Curled up    ready to spill
Dwell is lead astray    hinder    delay
They need water to open       let
the down inside blow away


 

My Life is Not a Riding School
He switched the headlights off as we drove
a lightless country road orange trees on either side
Drunk     the driver laughing       Heavy thrown things hit
the sides of the van    thudding      I imagined aliens or
survivalists jumping on   adhering like Spiderman
Or just the dark made manifest     attacking us
The blond woman in the community center that used to be
an elementary school told me to look up manifestation
It was pouring rain it was dark it was Christmas coming
broke at the end of the world drumming day & night
through the floorboards in my one yellow room the only
escape a song of my choosing hot water with lemon
& plastic     Last time I heard this song I was on the road
from the beach in Florida palm trees & ditches both sides
sun I took for granted       Manifest struck by the hand
palpable  evident  a hand + akin to   Apparent to the senses
Evident obvious plain clear  Bodily form of a spirit    Next
she says    look up craving   Mange before craving & chinchilla
rodent fur coats from the Andes a fanciness from childhood TV
Chine a cut of meat containing part of the backbone
does someone crave that chewing      the crannies
Crave is to demand what’s right   To beg    The synonym is desire
Compulsion: that which compels     driving force     Compel:
together + to drive     see FELT     (Archaic) to gather or drive
together by force    as a flock       Unmanageability
is not in my dictionary     Manage: mano is hand. Originally
to train a horse in its paces     cause to do the exercises
of the manège       Manège from Russian Manezh a riding school
Un – Not     lack of     the opposite of       My life
is the opposite of a riding school   my life is the lack
of a riding school    my life is not a riding school
Surrender: up + to render  To give up possession of   to abandon
to give oneself up to another’s power esp. as a prisoner –
why is that so appealing like sleeping? To give in
to something   yield     Accept: to take    see HAVE Obsession:
the act of an evil spirit in possessing or ruling a person
Obsess: to besiege + SIT     To haunt or trouble the mind
Demoralization: to throw into confusion      Abstain: to hold
back from + to hold      The delta of a river looks like a tree on fire.

 


booby trap

naomi shihab nye said she always told her son when he was little
to talk to strangers   to ask questions   she said if you are lost maybe

they will point you in the right direction   I liked to purposefully
get lost in cities    turned around     until the buildings were like flames

I’d stared into too long     I tried this in chicago when I’d gone
to a booksellers’ conference  the giant rooms like the twin cups

of the booby trap back home    I thought that if I paid no attention
to the streets  signs   I could run into my life by surprise    the one

that always hid from me  my horizontal    parallel existence where I
could manage money    find love  grow my hair long    I chose a nice

restaurant    not based on a guidebook or suggestion     just the look
of it  brick    smiling diners     the host seated me at a tiny 2-top

& seconds later  he began to seat a dark-haired man at the matching
table beside me  stopped   smiled   motioned toward my empty seat

& with his eyebrows asked if we would like to sit together     I hesitated
unable to see how this man would fit into my horizontal parallel life

but it seemed silly to say no   seemed my life could fork in ways
I could not imagine    he said he was a doctor or a student doctor

waiting for his doctor friends who must have had medical
emergencies    I mostly believed what people told me back then

he wanted to show me a building that appeared thin
as a credit card or with a dark hole through the center    some

architectural masterpiece with a flaw     I walked on the sidewalk
with him a man passing us stared at my face with the desire

to do me violence  & the doctor asked   did you see
the way he looked at you?   I was more afraid of all the mosquitoes

in the air    the one that landed on me by a wall that looks in memory
like the great wall of china & the doctor slapped my arm

smearing it with the blood of the previously bitten person
my germ phobic brain was busy with fear   but I still remember

the stranger’s face   as if I already belonged to him but he’d
bide his time store his anger      this could have been a story

you read in the paper because there was another sight the doctor
wanted to show me   only on view from his apartment   & when

I declined he said he’d get something from the apartment a jacket?
so I rode the elevator with him feeling smart that I wasn’t

going in      a girl with the automatic smile & hey of tourist
florida      but   somehow I did enter the apartment  as if he’d

opened the door on the wall of windows & the dark had called
me in    we drank tea on the balcony & I thought how easily

he could pitch me over    we were so high up twenty floors more?
then he gave my hand some kind of shiatsu massage that extended

to my shoulders & when he reached my breasts    I wondered how
medical or healing or oriental this massage had become

I know you’re thinking   idiot girl how could you be so foolish?
unfortunately   my body had begun to relax on the green padded

workout bench    responding to pleasure     so that I would give in to it
then jump up to leave & he would massage me back into the green

I could still be there or wherever else he had plans for me to be
in a tub where he’d use his doctor skills to empty my body of organs?

but sane adrenaline ran through    saving me from this horizontal
life & while he left momentarily for some mysterious implement

I dove into my clothes like water & flew out the front door
he followed      rode in a cab with me pleading

but by then      he was a dull weapon     a shadowy begging
presence    ghost I escape by stepping into my own life.

 

Kelle Groom

KELLE GROOM is the author of four poetry collections: Underwater City (University Press of Florida), Luckily, Five Kingdoms, and the forthcoming, Spill (Anhinga Press). Her memoir, I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl (Simon & Schuster) is a Barnes & Noble Discover selection, New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice, and a Library Journal Best Memoir. Her poems have appeared in AGNI, Best American Poetry, The New Yorker, New York Times, Ploughshares, Poetry, and are forthcoming in American Poetry Review. A 2014 NEA Fellow, Groom is MFA faculty at Sierra Nevada College, Lake Tahoe, and Director of the Summer Workshops at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.

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