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Estragon: “We always find something, eh, Didi, to give us the impression we exist?” Vladimir (impatiently): “Yes, yes, we're magicians.” —Samuel Beckett

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In a previous issue, more poetry by Roger

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Roger Bonner Roger Bonner


Refusal

Old snapshot haunting
the drawer of a dresser
with scrolls of dead moths —
my magnifying glass
discerns a city park,
a picnic grove where
blankets of frayed light
are spread under trees: 1942.

Not yet incarnated,
I am a tick clamped to leaves
above a man lying in the grass,
belly full of Sunday.
He gazes sideways at the
lull of woman, semi-recumbent,
her arm slinking to a coral necklace
above dress rank with print orchids —
a curtain about to be raised.

Sandwich bags collapse like balloons
as the afternoon grumbles with thunder
and an ant discovers the palace of her shoes
tossed aside, heels worn with imaginary escapes.

My eye recedes from the moment —
he'll never die alone behind a mattress
with roaches of dust;
she won't crumple on a bathroom floor,
water spilling from the sink
on gauze hair.

And I will remain unborn,
won't hoard womb flesh,
drain her teeth of their bite,
won't be called the idiot,
begging him to unravel shoestrings,
to pick me up from my bike,
soothe raw knees.

I refuse to drop from this branch,
scramble for their loins,
and engorge myself with birth.


Groping in the Dark

3 a.m.
I shove sleep from my chest —
in the building
no plumbing sounds,
no heating rumbles,
only the arrhythmic tick
of the clock.

I grope my way along walls
dripping in dreams
to the hallway.
The windows throng
with shadows;
in the gutter of the sky,
the moon gleams like a lost coin.

In a corner,
where the wardrobe stands
big as a drunken father,
my brother crouches,
polishing his rifle;
he slips in the bolt,
fingers the trigger,
takes careful aim.
Bang...bang...I'm dead,
he grins and lies down,
cradling the stock.

My mother sits on a sill
knitting a shroud,
needles flashing;
she knits and knits as it
inches out of the window,
a tongue of snow
creeping to the street.

Feeling my way to the toilet,
the glimmering bowl
where wolves come to lap,
I relieve myself.
My water drips to caverns,
forms golden stalactites.

I stumble back to sleep,
to the bed, bear warm,
heaving with love.