Cleolinda Jones (cleolinda) wrote,
Cleolinda Jones
cleolinda

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Two new poems

Fiction Press is being stupid, so I'm going to post them here.

Smoke

Em said that once you’ve smoked,
nicotine drills a hole in your psyche
that can never be filled.
She crept to school yellowed
by the stale fog
of her mother, a four-time
divorcée with a vodka thirst
and five packs a day.
We loathed smoke together.

Beware cancer! Nicotine jaundice!
Lung rot and acrid soot,
stains that never rinse,
reek steadfast as a bad reputation—
we would never hammer coffin nails
for ourselves, never and even after
she reneged, cut school in seniors’ cars
with her cigarette a magic wand
between her knuckles.
I kept our pact to spite her,

drifted away over good-girl years,
walked straight paths. She fumbled alone.
In sleep now I lean against graffiti,
a smoke Garbo-cool in hand
and sandpaper-hot in throat,
as natural as a sixth finger,
as oxygen,

and I wake absently, reaching
for an imaginary pack,
chopstick fingers extended,
hungry.


I'm Losing You

Connections: instant, but tentative, you and I
banding with ever-greater frequency,
developing tingling psychic
expectation of each other’s
incoming call, waiting
for the next
reciprocation, coy.

We began to linger for each other.
Long summer distances separated
nothing,
geography void.
Every night we
conferenced,
war-counciled for the coming day,
invested in each other
the confessions
that fused us, inseparate

but sometimes
I charged you with roaming
from my side, equally accused of
interference
in your “complicated” life—

I was never sure when
to let go, to hang up
the gloves, to see I couldn’t fight
your fights anymore…

Wires crossed
somewhere I couldn’t see
—sparked, flared—
and died.

Gathering groceries we met without expecting.
You spoke
a glossy pre-fab soliloquy:
Everything’s Great.
Yeah.
Everything’s Gonna Be Just Fine.

I lied the same,

until the signals came
softer… and less often

and in that prescient limbo

I could only say
I’m losing you,
as if straining to hear
you on a cellular,

separated from the day

by the darkness of a tunnel,
the static setting in,

and the voice I knew

faded.




ETA: Goddammit, you can't see the indentations, and on FP I can't get that one phrase to come up in italics. Also, the spacing on FP is fucked. I can't win. Go here for an approximation of what the indentations should look like. It's supposed to visually represent the "signals" breaking up.


Note: the "Em" in the first poem is not the Lovely Emily, who is lovely and does not smoke and I didn't even meet her until college.
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