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Prairie Schooner 80.2 (2006) 120-124

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Fit, and: Reference, and: The Raw and the Canned, and: Day Lady


Nothing does: not hips, not haunch.

Pants never slide: squeeze comfort.

Style is not. The point? Exercise

your mantras: Montgomery Wards,

Sears & Roebuck, J.C. Penny: all gods

you prayed to: spare, transfigure, shape:

go on home. The doors and windows

are dark. Prices are exacted: some way:

you outgrow them. Oh spinning wheels:

fortune, fashion: you pass (don't let)

go: you're not shaped. [End Page 120]


Your skin is fire: the red leather you

cling to. Old man folds the paper

to his liking: he crinkles. You

shouldn't be here. This is what

it means to read: outside, a whole

world you have no right to. You

don't want it. Soft rain settles on

the houses. In one of them your

father sleeps. He wakes when you

go to bed. Ties his shoes, drags a

thermos of steam into the night.

You dream of books: you never

know what else to ask for.

Afternoons your mother opens

and closes them, bringing down

the stamp again and again, red,

she numbers them, gently. She's [End Page 121]

giving them away. Who are you

waiting for? The chair stares with

dozens of golden eyes: it will

not speak.

The Raw and the Canned

Mother's cranberry, canned, slides a lump

from a tinny hovel. We are marked by our

encasements. Gelatinous love slicing parts

for all: delectation: my heart squishes a plate.

Texture's rot anyway, food a toy for your

winding down, your spinning and bagging

and wrapping and sleep. Thank you, I must,

thank you. Cans ratchet open, line on line:

oh my nutritive empery. Someone draws you

from a darkening shelf. Someone slapped a [End Page 122]

wing from the sky. Dress, dress, dress you

in flesh. Wear your belly to table. Eat, eat,

eat your fillings. Someone's baked a pie from

canned blackbirds, someone pries open your song.

Day Lady

for Nina Simone (1933–2003)
My rusted pipe can't hold her

tone, her gold: it's 3 AM, it's

already. Time comes. What ever

cannot cut is voice: the sheaf

that binds the scythe. I also hate

where I rise from, sometimes.

Come back. Every note blossoms:

amber: tears of waves of grain.

You have rooted my river. I [End Page 123]

pass and under. I burn, I burn

to cool you to voice and cry

to sky Paris and the sky crying

song her: would that: I did.

Joseph Campana's first collection of poetry, The Book of Faces, a poetic iconography of Audrey Hepburn, is available from Graywolf Press. His poems have appeared in Poetry, Beloit Poetry Journal, New England Review, and others.



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pp. 120-124
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