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Cassette Player

The sleeper, REM curtained
and moonlight drunk: flannel
sheets tucked around shoulders
like blue dark tucked around
the horizon. And shoulders soft
without thought. Without stars.

Track 1: there is nothing—
the disappearance of the small
animal of nowhere. Perhaps
this is why the Earth sleeps
in an infinity of ellipses.
Perhaps this is why the sun rises
and I wake older. Why the sun
rises and someone else does not.

Track 2: streetlight shadowed 4am.
The chickadee-starved window
won’t close. I stand at the centre
of a frozen lake, fox-less and half
dreamt. Tomorrow, my tooth cracks
on a trumpet and nail clippings wind
chime-twinkle on hardwood.
The silverware and chipped china
fall again and again in slow motion.
I watch him fall again in slow motion.
Till no motion.

Track 3: the old mythologies of
constellations stop blaming the sun,
scapegoating the sea. They apologize
to us instead. Then salt the wound,
boil the blood. Then wait without
thought. Without stars.

Track 4: we become porcelain
animals heavying the curved snow
globe shelf of the moon. Become
the blue flannel of horizon kiss
and a brass orchestra of trumpets
played without breath. Or I become;
she becomes; he became.

Track 5: the story softens like rain
against the curtains of my eyelids.
Like the warm-blooded story
of a cassette turned over into song
and song. And today, today someone
else wakes, too.

Playground Shoes

And on this particular grey-eyed, rain-
eyed square of sidewalk, bathed in electric
blue light, I hang the swings back up
in the playground, an empty picture frame
back up on the wall, two chickadees back
up on the graceful limbs of a tamarack tree.

I wait in the pebbled sand, behind the camera
lens, under a feast of feathers. I wait and
the nearby hills refuse summer. I wait and
my graceless hands become two rashes itching
to pull tires like tire swings from semitrucks.

I hitchhike down the block, to the end
of the crescent (moon), my gracious hands
hydrocortisone slick and sweating rain.
But I couldn’t handle all that open, endless
space. All that freedom outside of my control.

So I turn my thumbs up into a thumbs down,
jump out, and picture an electric blue power-
line wearing sneakers. I used to try to touch
my toes to the nest-cozy branches of tamaracks,
to the sand-soft playground of the clouds
as I pumped my legs and tried to propel myself
over the bar of the swing set. I used to think
those sneakers meant I could walk anywhere
that had electricity.

On this particular sweet-sighted, sun-eyed day,
I refuse the refusal of summer. Today, even the air
is electric.

Irish-Canadian poet Jade Riordan lives and writes in the Northwest Territories, Canada. She is currently a medical student at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Her poetry has appeared in The Blue Nib, Contemporary Verse 2, Cordite Poetry Review, The Miracle Monocle, Nokturno, takahē, and elsewhere.

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