Shirley Temple Surrounded by Lions

       In a world where kapok on a sidewalk looks like an “accident”
—innards—would that freckles could enlarge, well, meaningfully
       into kind of friendly brown kingdoms, all isolate,
with a hero’s route, feral glens,
       and a fountain where heroines cool their mouths.


       Scenario: an albino industrialiste, invited to the beach at noon
(and to such old exiles, oceans hardly teem with ambiguities)
       by a lifeguard after her formulae, though in love—
“Prop-men, the gardenias, the mimosa need anti-droopage stuffing.”
       Interestingly slow, the bush and rush filming.


       Hiatus, everyone. After the idea of California sort of took root,
       we found ourselves in this cookie forest; she closed the newspaper,
       groped past cabañas, blanched and ungainly.


           The grips watched Marv and Herm movies of birds tweeting,
       fluttering around and in and out an old boat fridge, on a reef,
       when eek, the door—or was it “eef”—“Shirl” said the starling, end of—


       The janitors are watching movies of men and women ruminating.
Then a cartoon of two clocks, licking. Chime. Licking, chime. Then a?
       After that, photos of incinerators in use moved families more than
the candy grass toy that retches. Dogs. For the dressers, Mutations,
       about various feelers. For the extras, movies of revenge that last.


       This spree has to last. “Accept my pink eyes, continual swathing,”
Shirley rehearsed. “Encase me in sand, then let’s get kissy.”
       Do children have integrity,  i.e. eyes? Newsreels, ponder this.
How slow the filming is for a grayish day with its bonnet
       bumping along the pioneer footpath, pulled by—here, yowly hound.

Poems by Kenward Elmslie are used by permission of The Estate of Kenward Elmslie.