you are in the diode archives fall 2009



Lingua Franca

I have always wanted to be blended. Biracial,
multilingual, polyglotal, some inner bead
in me seeking to unseem despite my fairly sturdy
keeping within the Caucasian chalk circle.

It could be that first time I drank
synthetic blended scotch made in Japan,
or in high school after I dropped a tab of LSD
then listened to two girls fight in Japanese
I could swear I understood every word.

Sunrise leaves me lonesome and univocal,
birdsong makes me furious like bass from a parked car.
The mockingbird! There’s my idol. Chattering
delirious nonsense, cutting up the morning with clatter. 

Sometimes in the dark I hear owls and I feel
like Vikings finding Roman settlements
and thinking they were made by giants.
I proclaim the terrifying screech owl to be
my god, behemoth of imponderable darkness.

I drink sweating Gin and tonics in the summer
and listen to traffic on 95 punctuated by cat calls
and 747s landing just beyond the coal power plant.

With so many voices I feel unable to speak
but gin leases its tongue to me. I cut it out

with cranberry juice so it bloodies against the glass
like wood, with mysterious grains. The ice cubes swim
amongst the machines like teeth. I push them down,
drown it all with a solid tongue. 


In the Stigmatic’s Bedroom

In the issue of blood, I am already ready
to misread this garment of light

which wears the look of a woman in a painting
wearing a look of a woman in a painting in a room
in which only ten minutes ago the last drops
of blood were cleaned from the floor, from the beckoning
dark leather of the couch, from this frame within a frame.
Then, breaking the oil around her lips, she frowns
and groans a long low negative.

This is a woman of a bright room in a painting of a bright room
in the newly minted room. The cleaning woman is gone
but the smell of ammonia, that ornament of defeat, remains.
This woman is bleeding herself into the room from
her painting. She will be the lady of broken glass.

When the story gets out it will be the fight for
ascendancy, for the wounds of the room, if the wounds
of the woman in the room are opened,

and they will be, they will require some stitching, for
blood flows into the mop head and into the gleaming
sewer, and into the mocking jowls of cleanup,
but eventually it will become static, with enough air and light,
will become continents of coagula.

Then there will be millennia of clean up
because the room is bright and the light of the room
is in the room and of the room and the blood is the blood
of being to, of being in the room and being the room
and it will come on, and continue to issue.  


Jay Snodgrass is the author of two books of poems, Monster Zero (elixir press) and The Underflower (Cherry Grove Collections). His poems have appeared in Ploughshares, The Iowa Review, and Versal, as well as online at McSweeney’s Internet Tendancy, Oranges and Sardines, Ducky, Big Bridge, and others. He has a PhD in English from Florida State and is currently teaching in Bainbridge, Georgia.