Paul Vreeland

In Issue 4 on October 31, 2009 at 7:55 am
Lot’s Wife I
Pound,             pound, pound,
our fists upon your door,
“It’s                  not                   fair.”
Pound,             pound, pound
          Not                  fair.
Are you not home? Where else would you be?
Do you lie there in the backroom with blinking eyes staring at the ceiling
fearful of the storm you know will arrive
presaged by the thunder drums, prison of dark skies
Do you cower behind the blue shutters and fear-locked door
Lights turned off, every appliance unplugged, the canary cage covered
You make a forced entry into an imitation of night
and wonder why your prayers for light are not answered.
You close the door hoping
that company will arrive to save you.
And we do,
We come, stand on the other side
hearts unbalanced, the scales suddenly askew
with the weight of unshed tears
while a river flows between us
carrying the stench of incontinence and recent history
If I would be, could be, who you think I am
the lesser sister long dead, her undisciplined desires
once unbecoming, cover-hidden
She beckons and would be your beacon, signal of hope
Come, she says. Enough of the tarrying
(How that word is gone too, like Gomorrah )
What you hear are echoes, voices like starlight
that have taken a thousand years to reach us
from places no longer there, across a matter of faith
Come, she says. Cross over, don’t look back
The leash of your life so light now,
the tension slight, that of a minnow yearning
the incomprehensible bait.
You could let your breath ease, fail
You could let the silver clasp fall
clatter to the floor awaken
the others to your terminal silence
Pound,             pound, pound,
our fists upon your door,
“It’s                  not                   fair.”
Pound,             pound, pound
Not                  fair.
  No rocket-science limbo
a hundred-thousand pages swallow our petitions
ten-million angry words
You rest, your grimmace a blinking red light
“You don’t understand” blink, blink.
“You don’t understand.”  blink,
“Yet. . .”
So why are those who do, so veiled?
Are they sworn not to reveal the secret mantra? the sacred password?
Is the membership so damned exclusive?
Come now, she says, don’t look back.
Come and be reunited with lovers who would hold you
Here the ties that bind are flaccid now,
the colourful balloons appear to ascend
while the heavy shell of your world
gravity-pulled, sinks into their hands.
Come, she says, don’t look back
There where hollow statues of the once proud
stand like obelisks hewn from the white stone,
stalactites strong on the hillside sculpted
from halite accretions
the tear-salts of other lost souls,
Come, she says, do not let them frame your likeness,
empty hearted, another miscalculated
marker of vanity randomly grave-yarded.
Come, give it up.
Pound,             pound, pound,
our fists upon your door,
“It’s                  not                   fair.”
Pound,             pound, pound
Not                  fair.

Lot’s Wife II
Winston Burleigh bought Lot 's wife,
who would have thought.
Transformed, born again
she was just another block of salt
they carried from the Farmers Coop
and dropped in the back of his half-ton
just another lick
he staked in the south pasture
down by that scraggy remnant of an orchard
down where Dennison's Creek is just about dried up now.
He hung her for his small herd, thirty-seven holsteins
that came for the shade and loved her,
gave her another chance
until the deer came
not for the apples,
they loved her more
kissed her to oblivion.
dreams in Spanish fall away,
remnants, in the wake of my ship
headed now for a day filled with
prayers for the departed,
for those souls that crowd around taking in
the rarified strata of air.
Imparting a certain divine-intoxicated madness,
they would turn my thoughts,
the stronger ones, my heart,
not for me to see,          or know,
in the daylight, day-job conventional sense,
but in that sentiment of knowing,
rooted deeper down, where more than bone is buried
where truth trickles and meanders with intention,
flows,               cell-to-cell,                   the ever,                       slow
morphing of biological structures,
sure as time’s pendule,
building out of the decay,
molecule           by                    molecule
the Kingdom of God from the ground up
the slow,           creeping                       dawn-like                     emergence
of stately networks of skeletal art
holding aloft incomprehensible visions
peopled            first,                  by those           unaware,
then occasional recognition,
certain as the daylight of the day-job convention,
the pulse-signals in my veins,
as my arrival.

The Fall
The boy opened his eyes as he lay on the meadow hill
stared up at the blue sky feeling the pain in his back
didn’t know yet whether he could move.
He saw the sky for what it was—a canvas of grandeur so very far away
knew that he was under it, awake for the first time
no longer in the garden of his dreams, the kind of awake that never goes away
He turned his head slightly, looked up into the branches of the tree
—an apple tree, but there were no apples,
it being budding spring.
It came to him now, the remembrance of his climb of summer last,
the effort of his untrained hand, the jamming of the rusty saw
in the deepening score he made in the green wood,
until he gave up. No reason for the work, only his quitting.
Beside him lay the broken saw-wounded branch that carried him down today.
  No apple, no snake, his fall is not that story, only an innocent justice.
And besides, the woman who would tempt him was waiting years away
in a future where he would carry the living pain,
with him constant
like the ever-nudging assertion
of his first regret.

Paul Vreeland’s works have appeared in CV2, Grain, The Caribbean Writer, Orison, The Baháí World, and The Toronto Quarterly. A world traveler and freelance editor, he writes from a home-base in Prince Edward Island .

  1. On my monitor some of the longer lines have been truncated and the sense of the poem lost.

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