S: FALLING BODIES: Metaphysical Love Poems Cheryl Hicks
FC: Cheryl Hicks | FALLING BODIES
1: Cheryl Hicks | FALLING BODIES
3: TABLE OF CONTENTS Around the Mountain at the End of a Sleep.....9 As Though Suffering from Broca's Aphasia.....10 From Pineapple.....12 Easy Broken.....14 Grimalkin's Magic.....15 How to Go About Understanding.....16 Keeping Track of Days.....18 Lady of Light.....19 Moving Violation.....20 Tearing Along These Dotted Lines.....21 Having Been Overlooked.....22 Quantum Leap.....24 The Trouble with Dreams.....28 Jettatura.....29 Without Provocation.....30 Anticipating the Fall.....32 Aviary.....34 Designated Readymade.....36 Falling Down by Night.....38 Geode.....40
5: TABLE OF CONTENTS Hold the Mayo.....42 Know How.....45 Medusa Envy.....46 Much Like Oppenheimer's Dilemna.....49 On the Physical Nature of Poetry & Separation.....50 Superposition.....52 That Which Doesn't Easily Fall.....54 When the Stream of Consciousness....58 Acts of God and Other Mysteries.....60
7: Written work by Cheryl Hicks has been published in Crate, Halfway Down the Stairs, Southern Hum, The Best of the First Line: Editors’ Picks 2002-2006, Families: The Frontline of Pluralism, The Remembrance Project at Howard University, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Other Poetry (UK), Juice, Poems-For-All, Literal Translations, Toward the Light, The Sigurd Journal, Ginosko, Eskimo Pie, Urban Spaghetti, Blue Fifth Review, Heliotrope, Makar, Snakeskin (UK), HerCircle, The Orphan Leaf Review (UK), the delinquent (UK), Autumn Sky Poetry, Silent Actor, Avatar Review, Word Riot, Clockwise Cat, Halfway Down the Stairs, Monkey Kettle (UK), Washington Literary Review, Shakespeare’s Monkey Review, and Unquiet Desperation (UK). She has been a featured poet at C/Oasis, is a previous recipient of the Paddock Poetry Award and presented poems from her series titled Conversations with the Virgin at the 2006 Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association Conference in Tucson, Arizona. Hicks’ art has been shown across Texas and in New York, and her collages have appeared in CELLA’s Round Trip, Anti-, Blue Print Review, and Creative Soup. Her mixed media work was featured at the Fort Worth Contemporary in July 2008. (cherylhicks.weebly.com) | Writer and Artist CHERYL HICKS
9: AROUND THE MOUNTAIN AT THE END OF A SLEEP you seem to think you are as beautiful as the sun filtering slanted through the trees that you distract me like those beams and drive me headlong without regard into traffic coming on last Saturday I cleaned the kitchen drawers spent the drizzly morning bent on trying to remember into which clattery pullout I had stashed my dreams if I seem to be invulnerable, you are sorely misinformed
10: AS THOUGH SUFFERING FROM BROCA'S APHASIA Five a.m. brings the roar, the bump, the backing up of the truck that dumps the trash across the street as I slip from sleep to memory and catalogue events since yesterday’s waking. Silently I call to you as all around us bodies fall through the dark hoping to be caught by another’s surprise. I imagine collective shadows as they dive--choreographed, practiced, perfected. Joined by mystery, they strive for divinity, and struggle to speak without words. Because I cannot say, I stumble through the day refusing to take sacred images at face value, and I strain to remember, when as plentiful as pain, as coincidental as night bugs smeared on glass,
11: the ties between future and past were most clear in that sharp intake of breath-- when I was severed from my wings. Words fail, systems fail, still we are soundlessly bound by these golden connections. Compulsively examining each link of the chain, ever hungry for the comfort of noise, we need an endless stream of illusion, a believable dream of grace and the certainty of imaginable sequels.
12: FROM PINEAPPLE from your hands so restless, I could tell you were just trying to breathe, to maintain that small passage thumbnail wide. and I, breathing, just breathing till that moment just south of ability when I could have reached you through the rain-thick air could have reached you past the darkly gathering heat to feed that flower in my stomach bloom too red to be so red bite too ripe to be so small
13: small passage, small chimney, small breathing for breakfast today I ate pineapple fresh good sweet and thought of you
14: EASY BROKEN so easy to go from down to new. so fast to put aside the past like a sack of dried up tunes. so easy to blast like a rocket from zero to zipping across a plane of black wearing only my nighttime mask. so easy to crash back to earth all spent from so much sparkling. and it’s easy to want that cool so hot, to coax yourself from not to maybe not today to maybe not not as hard as trying to hold on to desire like eggs broken open, spreading liquid across your palms. not as easy as bursting into a million smiling pieces.
15: GRIMALKIN'S MAGIC So, you came to me last night in a strange dream with a strange cat. One of you, with your smooth mouth and pale eyes, with just the slightest hesitation, gentled me, repeatedly. One of you settled in a curl of heat around my shoulders so deliberately. There was a garden and it seems you played a banjo The song remains.
16: HOW TO GO ABOUT UNDERSTANDING WITHOUT STEPPING ON IT DIRECTLY I remember developing breasts, (it was the same year the Russians launched Sputnik) and going with my aunt to buy my first fully-trained bra, and learning from the lady at Tots-to-Teens how important it would be someday to bend over at the waist when I put it on and the first time I bent over. I remember learning that there were men in the world who wanted to teach me about the men in the world, and how the faint strong smell of bleach tinted my sheets last week after I washed the colors with the whites and left them on the line to dry bleeding happily all together.
17: I don’t remember learning I would die, but it must have been like stepping casually into a freshly laundered dream, like stepping into a white tulip skirt trimmed round the hem with crimson quatrefoils and tears. I wonder if I cried, and when the flowers will start to bleed.
18: KEEPING TRACK OF DAYS This thing there is that swirls in me today, a shift in light, more angular than azure, less directional than shade. Perhaps it is that dimming light for which I’ve prayed and prayed. Admittedly, I’ve made mistakes before, mistakes in charting evolution, analyzing my desires, mistakes in cataloging all those sweet, repugnant flavors. Sometimes your taste shoots down my spine. Admittedly, to ask for more is to deny the gift.
19: LADY OF LIGHT when the water drips from my hair I would be a streambed when I look in the mirror I would have a silver back when steam rises from my legs I would be the cool above the tub where there is friction you are the vine joining earth and sky when you smile at me I shine beauty above the waterline if you touch me, I will shatter into a million shining droplets of deception
20: MOVING VIOLATION when I read about fire and settled agrarian societies I am reminded not to think of you when I drive at night my fingers find my mouth I go too fast and desire leaves me soft as the inside of a knee and unable to grip the wheel
21: TEARING ALONG THESE DOTTED LINES Deliberately and exactly, when I dream of satisfaction, it fills me as completely as an airbag fills the space between the dreamer’s face and a disastrous dash. Just last night I dreamt seduction. Behind my eyes the swirling cavity was packed with words, with blazing actions and intentions, lines and spaces specked with half-notes destined never to be sound. When at last the music woke me, I was succinctly bound between approaching traffic and the blaring horns of diving maidens. I note the beat, the vague instructions you have given me to play this fugue: More finite than amorphous masses, less definite than round.
22: HAVING BEEN OVERLOOKED when deprived of the advantage of first glance some men are much averse to meeting a woman’s eye. I would have made you from my rib but I am not a wise-woman and I might have missed the point. still when you insist on undecaying saints, I, with my knowledge of dread names, keep at least ninety-nine secrets under my belt and carry the world in my mouth when you call out I wonder how is it I have heard the divine and didn’t die?
23: some say the magic of men dwells in their garments they make much of uniforms, vestiges, badges of rank but we know the power of nakedness and how spirits can be raised by nudity in its ceremonial form beyond the lunar mountain, the garden of paradise, the great cave, you are a man of rags always aching for life
24: QUANTUM LEAP From the side of the road were the ditch climbs and grape vines cling to the rocks, where fruit green and new sings the promise of red, and weed tops quiver like summer corn, I could tell it was a bad spill. All those cars, barely damaged yet strangely askew, bodies flung according to mangled aesthetics, and that woman so horribly flat on the road. I’d seen death on the screen, in my dreams, on the run, but never so close. Still, I knew she was dead, not just limp like some actress gone soft, but adhered to the asphalt like candle wax, cooled, maintaining her contact with earth, and except for the watchers there to watch her let go, all alone.
25: It’s the details that do it. Blue shorts. Yellow shirt. Slack hands. Half afraid I would see the release, I looked straight ahead. One-way traffic reflected in chrome. Pave the way for the going. Remember the ones who have gone. You don’t plan to find yourself breaking a lane marker, washed by rain, making a farce of the NO PASSING sign. So, I look at your hands, fingers curled round the wheel. At your confident grip,
26: not at odds, not at ease. Not like me, always hoping someday you’ll let go and just reach, just for me. Those rough hands, once so young, were once flexing and grasping like tentacles splayed over breasts, urging milk, kneading power, needing more satisfaction than living can give, seeking more than a hold on this earth. Vulnerability shows in your wrists, in your wants. How empty my chest feels. How close the night. Air so thick I can’t breathe, rain so near I can’t see. I have reached for your hands, past the fear.
27: So much smoother than wiper blades slipping I’ve shifted, from side to side like rain on glass, until, determined not to hide behind a veil of feigned control, I reach, and breatheagain. I dare to fly, and breathe, nd spin. I dare to hope you’ll break my fall when I let go.
28: THE TROUBLE WITH DREAMS In my last dream last night I was headed home, having had sex twice without waking, when my car stalled on the familiar farm-to-market. Two big men held a bigger yellow banner with the unframed question, “Agent Arquaro?” Not me, but I didn’t exactly feel safe with my windows down and my doors unlocked, so I pretended to be as dead as a marzipan woman until they eventually lost interest. Having dreamt you twice last night, I was sure it was you who leaned your smile against my knees, but when I searched nearby, I found no elegant sweep of thigh, no blinding light, or reliable heat-seeking hands, just crumpled sheets. The trouble with dreams, it seems, is the way they come to us like centipedes, segmented and determined to climb. We read their lines as wistful poems, and waste our vision powers counting feet.
29: JETTATURA If I could watch you with my eyes closed, I would know more how you move. But I am blinded by your sweep of arm, my good intentions falter, and I forget the words. As though balanced on toe on a rickety white chair, I posture and prance, then dive, knowing this is my last possible chance to keep from falling. Behind this desperation in my eyes, I am learning to fly.
30: WITHOUT PROVOCATION So many snakes in the road lately, dust colored and fictitiously lazy, the way they lie in wait, the way they are efficient and neutral. So I watch my feet, and as my pace grows ragged, leave my neck unprotected. So many times, I would have touched your cheek with mine. The shape of the shared surface, a mystery, and irresistible, feeds my mouth hunger, but the pressure is always the same. You always look at me like that, with your head lowered and your eyes raised
31: so the bottom lids become a pair of lash-defined, shadow-outlined, pale offerings. Don’t say you haven’t seen the way you make my senses bend.
32: ANTICIPATING THE FALL I’m amazed I can breathe. If I wanted to reach out, right now, don’t know if I could, don’t know if I’d want to, don’t know if I would remember how to touch. So, I contemplate small things like the bubbles in my coffee and whether they’ll migrate toward the edge of the cup predicting rain or not. I need to know, because, there are days, when, wetter than circumstance, better than drowning, quieter than tears, the only thing that saves me is the rain. How hard it is to move this way
33: unglazed, edging closer to the shadows of need. How soft when I let myself think of your face, when a piece of mystery falls into place triggered by who knows what freedom it must be to just turn loose like a refrigerator magnet that takes off one night from its cool, white, vertical plain to sail across a two-toned, checkered terrain only to be stepped on in the fading dark of morning strangely not demagnetized at all. The last time I saw you , it rained and I spiraled so predictably. What freedom to have everything so cleanly taken away.
34: AVIARY Past the pulp toward the bitter core, I bite into apple seeds everyday and think how different the world would be if we were together. These are words that must be whispered, words as sure & as delicate as the skin behind my knees. I dream of the way we would sleep,
35: like tossed wagers on velvet, the placement of every elbow and finger exact in carelessness. I lift my hair, and think of your neck. You cup my hip, and the mystery of our scent lingers like silence. Still, we are here, two small birds with no large wish to fly.
36: DESIGATED READYMADE I would take the thickness of an eager kiss, take my heart’s crankshaft clatter and the narrow width of that brilliant flare that flashes between day and night, take the texture of a smooth bright red pencil on a blue-lined yellow pad, to make satisfaction, pour it into a white foam cup and drink it just as cool. I would measure your mouth, define immeasurable quantities, like enough and too much, and paint that fascinating fullness in between. I would write of want, and recognition of want,
37: of all the steps from touch to bend, through each retreat, to the surging delight that repeatedly drifts to the side like snow packed on the toe of a booted foot slipping through and through and through picking up frozen residue on the run. And I would not run. I would lie to give you that full feeling, as heavy and sure as a pink hydrangea, as insistent as a swinging noose, but without distrust, without aggression, without that yellow pulling back. These parted lips, this shallow breath, this effortless dispersal toward the gullet— beneath this wanting lies the secret of desire perfected by its lack of rules.
38: FALLING DOWN BY NIGHT now I know it wasn’t yours because the house was white and there were doors unlocked and the driveway was so wide but I wanted you there and there you were feeling fragile and ungrounded as imperfect as a mounded fist of suds I know you held me to the light to let me sparkle know you kept me from the winds until I could begin to find a stable line between bare fact and flagrant fiction where it falls it is impossible to say
39: in spite of my nostalgia for imagined paradise I would have been a willing sacrifice without foundation but I am a beggar so predictably I want I dreamed this was a love song universal still the worse for lack of wear I fear it is impossible to say I am no princess won I am a cycle of disparate tales and so, I’ll have six hundred horsemen with rich gifts I’ve set my price
40: GEODE Ours is a natural history; if shattered, our spectacular reactions would glow. My body knows instinctively how you love me. Every stone knows your hands, how they think about my waist. Every wash knows the taste of our kiss open mouthed, and the heat sweetly channeled when your thumbs trace the twin indentations at the base of my spine. One more time, try to say our love is a loose tooth, hesitation a pale dream.
41: Out of time, we are a hollow song grinding ourselves against perfect rhyme. Today is Sunday and the sun has just set. I say you can’t hide when a colorless moon paints a hole in the sky. I’ve known moisture, I’ve known heat, I’ve known radiating truth. Break me open. Break you open. We are all filled with crystals.
42: HOLD THE MAYO elevate the hips elevate the mind elevate the discourse peas and cornbread three seconds of thumb soft brush across lip across lip oh, man most times apples are fine but it would be nice to think you’re tempted since temptation or is that flattery? is the bread of life she smiles and he goes, “” and she goes, “”
43: then she throws the whole bowl and don’t ya know the world shatters bright blue pieces all that bleeding without feeling in every direction honeyhoneyhoney don’t matter I’ve got an emptiness in me no lovin’ can fill. but oh man oh man oh man are you tempted
44: KNOW HOW I dream of you there by the bed where I rise on my knees deep in down deep in down where from down looking up hands on thighs fingers curled in like side by side smiles I see you grin so eager to show what you’ve got and I laugh like a woman who knows how to take it away
45: all the way without waking without moving a hand there I follow, eyes closed down the thread of a tune you have dreamt since the day you were born skilled at taking, I know deep in down deep in down how to fall side by side all the way
46: MEDUSA ENVY part of me wants to be the one the ideal the one every man says is ideal with the perfect body not too much hip and the daring face never enough lip not too much eyeliner and the mediocre mind not too much like my friend who tells everyone who will listen about the policeman who stopped her for going ninety-one and who was so bowled over by her beauty that he was yeah that he was yeah physically incapable of writing her a ticket part of me wants to be that one
47: part of me wants to take you away for the weekend for a long lazy weekend and just for a few hours to forget the truth to take you repeatedly and with great enthusiasm repeatedly and with great enthusiasm without concern for control without concern for other without concern for self not to think about myself not to think not to think not to think I think repeatedly then I’d slide across the bed like a liquid dream with no firm place to go
48: I would glide across that comfortable room open the window and see if anyone else understands
49: MUCH LIKE OPPENHEIMER’S DILEMNA my intent is not to make light but isn’t this everything? isn’t it ever this urge to press my mouth against your everything? uncontrollable? inconceivable? inevitably explosive?
50: ON THE PHYSICAL NATURE OF POETRY AND SEPARATION Evaporating little by less, we are caught over and again below the waist, yet somehow our clothing remains dry. From one end of the world to the other, the tops of watery curls are determined to fall, each as weighty as a breast, crested, yet undemanding, and the thin green bodies of dark, top-heavy blossoms quiver. We suffer this calamitous parting of self from self, but in our madness, we are saved from time by grace,
51: soon to be only faint, reinvented spaces. And this imagining? It is much like walking through frost-- so much easier than life, yet a bit ridiculous in its appeal.
52: SUPERPOSITION go ahead ask me anything ask the secrets of women what they want four words: take it from me come on and ask me if I’m blue again well yeah, but it’s such a dry heat and you ask so sweetly always keeping the edges neat always keeping in mind that I can’t make you drink in bright trappings of death
53: I am Lady of the Least trust this corpse to the earth I am the wise-woman of this realm and I like the way that makes me feel feel that slow wicked burn across the tongue down the throat, down oh man, I can feel myself seeping deep purple & blue why, I’d like to STOP! why? don’t you like it! welldon’t you?
54: THAT WHICH DOESN’T EASILY FALL You stand behind me and the mirror fogs with our steam. Knowing when to reach out is such a mystery An elusive thought that can’t be erased from my gray, textured brain, you are a misty promise couched in faith and perpetual motion. You keep me hoping all will eventually rise up to fall free, free through the clouds, through like hailstones, through like promises too large to be contained. I note a vague connection between relationships and time. And our hands constantly move
55: Don’t you ever get lonely for someone to flatten yourself against when you turn the current on? Don’t you see these fragments of desire as they are? Being reborn into living beings, being stuffed into a giant wicker woman, woman writhing with the need to burn for small relief? But no relief. Most days I feel small, inconsequential, like fluffy stuffing or wiggling segments of a waving appendage Lined up with the other floats, I take my place in this weird parade honoring loyalty and strength
56: where all the other pieces wave that special wave— rotation of wrist without emotion. I am a place holder for the sacrificial fire, always set to blaze, always ready to prove, always knowing how to behave in an explosive situation, always left wondering which arm will fall off first. My love most often targets you with accuracy but, if a small charge expresses itself and spins free toward some other, perhaps one housing your characteristics, I build a dwelling, a small place for each to thrive,table. Every touch a fire guttering in the steam.
57: planted in rows so they can grow their vines mature, their virtues twine to wrap relentlessly around our cleverly staked denials. Perhaps all lines do converge, not at the top as previously thought, but at the navel where they glow like burning embers, predicting the future like clusters of children, reminding me that I should have held on with a purpose Every glance is a puzzle piece thrown on the
58: WHEN THE STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS TURNS DOWNWARD shoulders shoulders shoulders fingers twine then tighten soft rough touch to such a place just out of reach and then that sweeping urge to power down the line from hip toknee the knee that gives then gives then gives more higher up from hip to knee that feather touch just out of reach just reaching shoulders shoulders shoulders chest two times
59: I long to shoulders open mouth to knee this urge this higher up just so just so
60: ACTS OF GOD AND OTHER MYSTERIES I smoke cigars now, but only once a month, and I no longer eat meat at all. I still carry my arousal around like a succulent fruit in a semi-permeable pouch just south of my solar plexus, and I think of you when it rains like it rained today. I don’t spend much time binding or unbinding my hair, or enough time combing it to cause even a small thunderstorm. I have found myself strangely alone and craving lightning.
61: Your going has left an emptiness in me bigger than my original self and I have denied words until they no longer spill down my arms. I write now in shorthand, disabled and unwilling to transcribe the details. Let the leaves fall. Let them say she was taken on a Friday, full-faced and plastered on the cover, no sense denying the truth. Let them say she could twirl like a leaf weighted down by her stem. “Did you see how she fell?” Like a soft, Sunday paper, still folded, predetermined as a morning crepe myrtle still loaded with dew. Still looking for wholes, as vulnerable and transparent as a grape, let them say she was seedless, and without wings.