Friday, January 30, 2009

Thursday, January 29, 2009: On the Street…Yellow Shoes, Paris

Solid, unliving objects notice the climate.
Downy green fur sprouts on rocks,
Shifting surfaces from rough to soft.
Coins grow tarnished shells, ink that clings
To silver, seafoam sprung from copper.

Moss, rust, tarnish, ropes of ivy—
You offer the aged, lonely things and places
Steady, slow compassion, companionship.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thursday, January 29, 2009: On the Street….Black Coat, Stockholm

In Arlington National Cemetery
We learned about the bronze bodies
Of horses and soldiers on top of horses
On top of solid blocks of granite.

The horse’s postures tells us,
Our social studies teacher said,
If the rider died in battle
Or was only wounded.

An angry horse with both front legs
raised high conveys a death in battle.
One leg lifted like a snapped branch
Indicates a wound during service.

Later I heard that the horse code
Is not consistent throughout graveyards.
But to this group of one hundred
Eighth graders, equestrian symbols of dying

Loomed up from the ground like mountains
Sprung up from stony, gnarled roots
And white headstones rose from the gums of earth
In infinite, gapped rows like baby teeth.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wednesday, January 28, 2009: On the Street…Nails, Stockholm

Either of two slender bones, each
Articulating with the sternum.
From the Latin clavicula: key,
Tendril, door-bolt become
Fasteners in human anatomy,
Lugnut mixed with calcium.

Also called the collar bone, attached
At one end to the shoulder blade.
Is shaped like the letter f (this doesn’t match
the original text—the ink’s decayed
and left a gap. Editor’s note: we’ve patched
this line with “f,” a consonant band-aid

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009: On the Street….Le Marais, Paris

Collar drawn close,
High around the neck,
(petals shut tight)

The universal symbol
For fragility
For bracing against

Feigns strength, performs
Protection with
Varying success.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009: On the Street…Outside Old England, Paris

When I pulled L’Etranger from your bottom shelf
By its bony, slim spine

The pages spread like the wings of a butterfly
And dropped a brown leaf

At my feet. The leaf was brittle and papery,
And I recalled selecting it

One November day (while I still studied philosophy)
When I felt warm and drowsy

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday, January 23, 2009: On the Street…Rue de Castiglione, Paris

Playing dress-up as a little girl
Is an experiment

Of decadent, arbitrary
Proportion. Strands of pearls,

Looped and weighty, tangle around
Silver chains, semi-precious

Cut stones pendulous against
A girl’s slight, unformed frame.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wednesday, January 21, 2009: On the Street….Luca Rubinacci, Florence

A crimson motorcycle is tucked amongst
rows and rows of black and gunmetal,
a cardinal perched, stockstill in a hedge.

We’re trained to see what should not be there,
what we do not expect to crop up, contrasts:
a man slumped on the wet sidewalk, sketching.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009: On the Street….Red and Green, Milano


All redheads are related, she said,
The tortoiseshell or plastic of the rims of her glasses
Shining amber, bronze.
And we’re an endangered species.

Four percent of us have ginger, strawberry blonde
Planted in our scalps like wildflowers.
How to protect this shade,
This wildness.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009: On the Street…Via Tortona, Milano

She lost a glass earring
As she ran to flag
The taxi that was speeding
And would have gotten her
To her class on time
Instead she boarded a bus
Stepping from the curb
Over a tangled necktie
Lurking in the gutter
Like a coiled snake
Later she would see
Her left earlobe bare
And imagined her green bauble
Laying in the street
A tiny glass eye

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday, January 16, 2009: Gloves—The Finishing Touch, Florence

The Halls of Progress™: Appliance Row

Behold, the appliances of the 1970’s.
Gone are the candy glosses of the previous years.
In their place, mustard, rust, avocado,
Dusky earthen tones drawn from outdoors.
Black and white is coming, ladies and gentlemen,
Try to be patient, but feel free to take some photos
Of our roots, and, as always, hold your questions.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thursday, January 15, 2009: On the Street…Navy and Green, Florence

Disoriented passengers leave
The tepid airport, struggle down the metal stairs
And step onto the tarmac. The cold air,
Sharp lights are overwhelming. The travelers are relieved

To see a man with headphones (earmuffs?) shepherd
Them toward the plane. Here it is, their vehicle.
They lurch and stoop at the entrance, the pace a trickle,
And slump into seats, sighing inside the metal bird.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009: On the Street….That Smile, Florence

Maria trembled in the leather chair,
black smock hot, pulled to her chin like a bed sheet.
I’m sure. Let’s do it, she says, and the metal
saws into her hair. The stylist dangles
a length of yellow strands, places them
into Maria’s hands. The scissors sound
like a pushbroom on concrete, directing water or dust
toward corners, doorways. When it’s done, she stands,
snd surveys the discarded follicles on the floor,
scattered and mystical as tea leaves, ashes.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesday, January 13, 2009: On the Street....For a Smaller Waist Go For Strong Shoulders, Florence

Joe’s mother clapped him on the back
With pride. Strong, she’d say, like an announcement,
Nodding. Her one hand cupped the air, his coat,
And thumped. Halved applause. My son, the boxer,
Stories of him (to other mothers) began.
Every morning, before school, Joe
Ran those streets. He’d pull his sweatshirt tight
Around his shoulders until he felt his back
Hot and damp. The grey cloth clung,
Dappled, another skin, camouflage.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009: On The Street…Half Plaid, Paris

Monday, January 12, 2009: On The Street…Half Plaid, Paris

Green Door

There's an old piano and they play it hot, Behind the green door. Don't know what they're doin', but they laugh a lot, Behind the green door. Wish they'd let me in so I could find out what's Behind the green door.

(“Green Door,” Jim Lowe)

For ten years I walked past it without noticing.
Past the coffee shop with its glass and wobbly tables,
The acrid smell a mix between bonfire, gasoline, and soil.

Past the barber shop with the men perched in black leather chairs,
Faces lathered and steaming, heads back and pale necks exposed
Like baby birds with mouths upturned.

Past the outdoor store, stocked with birdseed and feeders,
Fountains to be installed in gardens, wooden
and metal wind chimes that clacked or tinged like rain.

Until one day, I noticed:
A purple, lacquered door, slatted and heavy, with the dull sheen
Of an eggplant. And on the door, a single capital letter: A.

The shutters were always drawn tight, sealed like dragon scales,
And the door remained shut. I never saw that door open,
Nor did I hear any clues about its contents,

But after seeing it, I often stood outside and listened hard,
Ready to take in the first peal of laughter or clink of glasses,
Willing someone to shout and it to reach my ears.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Wednesday, January 9, 2009: On the Street….The Silver Fox

He asked her to repeat herself.
As she explained again that the wedding
was off (off, she said, like a light
switch flicked or a black and silent
TV), he removed his glasses
so that he might hear his daughter
better, as she pulled the plug
on troublesome pieces of her future.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

January 6, 2009: On the Street….Left Bank, Paris

The blue sidewalk of this morning
Bears the weight of melting snow, of ice,
Of grey wads of newsprint
Like ashen petals or scooped oatmeal.
January brings all forms of disintegration.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

January 6, 2009: On the Street….French Cut, Paris

There were certain secrets that he told women
to tether their hearts and bodies to his:

the thin scars etching his thigh like a pale barcode,
the Braille he created at thirteen

how his uncle was terrified to leave the house,
and was found there alone one sunny morning

his crush on the high school chemistry teacher,
and her flirtatious comments on his lab reports

but he would never ever tell another human being
that he once sang in a youth church choir

and that his voice was perfect before puberty,
and that he sang soprano with a voice like a bell

he did manage to sing in front of his dog one night
but let’s keep that between us
The Storialist. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.