Childless, I am in a house on the ocean-edge
of a national park. Nights, I consider broadcast horrors. This is not
my house. I am a stranger, a newcomer. So often, too,

is the horror. Passes time. Passes time. Past time lights
up my liturgical tendencies, illumines past time, my lovelies.
Here, in this room, in this house, the light is sometimey as always.

Clouds. Wind and all. Pronounced through windows onto woods, onto lawns.
Say “Light casts its tender hieroglyphs on the mundane
and cataclysmic equally,” and fancify a nothing, go straight

for an inaccuracy that distracts and passes time.

And light comes before the hieroglyph, and (as marker)
these hieroglyphs give meager insight into the “nature” of light beyond
some minor perceptions. And what? Shall I ride the alliterative waves

of articulation and silence that fog my mouth and mind? Or just let
the words like particles roll? See where and what this accrual of syllables gets us?
It’s midday, and you are both years before the you to whom this poem

whispers, before the women with whom these syllables conspire. Lullaby, loves,
this ain’t. I have become a woman who screams softly. Maybe an over-abundance
of caution? Of caustic care? Well, I’ve seen the clips and memes, heard the murmurs

and corporate decisions meant to mark-up and mock the nature of you that’s well beyond
easy perception. In past times,

I’ve been medicated out of my self, locked under
an atmospheric feeling, the condition of which would not relent, which could will “will not”

to relent. Wheels of wheeling won’t re-
lent. Absolve your self sunken between
Breath breath breathe                and the toxic dirt.

More by Tonya M. Foster

In Tongues

 

for Auntie Jeanette

1.
Because you haven’t spoken
in so long, the tongue stumbles and stutters,
sticks to the roof and floor as if the mouth were just
a house in which it could stagger like a body unto itself.

You once loved a man so tall
sometimes you stood on a chair to kiss him.

2.
What to say when one says,
“You’re sooo musical,” takes your stuttering for scatting,
takes your stagger for strutting,
takes your try and tried again for willful/playful deviation?

It makes you wanna not holla
silence to miss perception’s face.

3.
It ain’t even morning or early,
though the sun-up says “day,” and you been
staggering lange Zeit gegen a certain
breathless stillness that we can’t but call death.

Though stillness suggests a possibility
of less than dead, of move, of still be.

4.
How that one calling your tryin’
music, calling you sayin’ entertaining, thinks
there’s no then that we, (who den dat we?), remember/
trace in our permutations of say?

What mastadonic presumptions precede and
follow each word, each be, each bitter being?

5.
These yawns into which we enter as into a harbor—
Come. Go. Don’t. says the vocal oceans which usher
each us, so unlike any ship steered or steering into.
A habit of place and placing a body.

Which choruses of limbs and wanting, of limp
linger in each syllabic foot tapping its chronic codes?
 

Related Poems

Decompose: Of Immaterial Things

A hope of leaves and hollows,
a breaking nest, a crest of granite
and unquarried moss. It’s soft
wintering a shade between green
and gray. The hope of colors for
which there is no word develops and
then fades. Uncaptured and un-impressed
in a kind of precision in dissolution.
Or in silence and the desire to trespass
and hold where the roots’ incision splits. Some
inevitable gesture or quantity in monochrome
and grateful light. And still the distance
between tongue and sight contained
in each body and measured as a factor
of attempt. Approach. Carefully mantained
first to shimmer and then break at the horizon.
Where the eye seeks motion, a threshing up
or fluttering, or blurring of wings and leaves.

Ancestors Are Calling

Sometimes the ancestors call

 

 

 

 

                                                                            tongue to mouth
                                                                            an auburn molt of daguerreotypes stained

Sometimes the ancestors call

 

 

 

 

                                                                            an earwig gracefully arranged
                                                                            a pebble between pincers caught
                                                                            is the scene’s composition

Sometimes the ancestors call

 

                                                                           shovel heeled curt wedge of earth,
                                                                           a convent of daisies assaulted
                                                                           a lunar moth poised at dung end
                                                                           oak leaf suddenly caught at mid-fall

 

 

 

Sometimes the ancestors call

                                                                           dark sip sickle scythe curve
                                                                           a wagon’s tracks from coffins weighed
                                                                           Wind to forecast their arrival
                                                                           Wind to dictate the shuffle
                                                                           and strut of steps
                                                                           to the rust of gates.

 

Sometimes the ancestors call

 

 

 

                                                                  Not in the great cinema graphic arias
                                                                  Of gun firing bandits at a locomotive’s gray smoke
                                                                  But in rage of gray starlings
                                                                  Circling over head 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not in the paranoia of walks down bug house corridors
Nor to bed pans brimmed do they call.
Not in the paranormal cadences
                                                                        of cathedral spiked with sepulcher and crucifix

 

I could be anything
other than what I propose here
                                                                                 I could be song
                                                                                                        I could be dance
                                                                                                                            I could be slab of sky

 

 

How many generations still left to measure?
At what cost this cadence?
At what price the grave’s granite thumb?

 

The Artificial Infinite

like a room with an open window, we
               were haunted:
                                         neither exit nor entrance,
fully: so the ghosts crossed our thresholds:
               they have all gone out, they have all gone in:
the little houses leaning into the field of grass, the water
               tower levitating into the sky, the roadside drill
that digs in the grit:
                                     shock of the human
               machine
continuously beating but irregularly: so absence
               fills with expectation, overfills: and the thing is
king: