Along with the return of warm weather in the northern hemisphere, April brings us National Poetry Month and 30 Days of The 5-2 Blog Tour. The 5-2 is an ever-growing collection of crime poetry curated by the inestimable Gerald So. I’ll be contributing to the tour itself next week. But in anticipation I thought I would share a poem I’ve been working on.

I don’t write much poetry. It struggles to get out of me. This particular poem is something I’ve been working on since September. It’s probably not in its final form, though for now I’m treating it as finished. I think it’s a sorta sestina, a form which has intrigued me for some time. The poem itself will also be part of what may be my next novel, though it still remains to be seen how and when it will be available.

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Mother distracts herself with poetry: Haikus about wind
Whispering and scurrying Through autumn’s last leaves.
I wait, but all she’s got for me
Are quoted lines about the contradictions of ice
And murmurs: “A girl can always use new clothes.”
I ask her to stop—

I ask him to stop—
But my voice flies like leaves on the wind.
He channels Mother with breezy promises of new clothes.
I don’t respond—I’m the girl in every leaf—
His waxy hands creep like spiders, their need as sharp as ice.
Eyes closed, I compose poems to myself.

A haiku wind blows, a litter of leaves lifts me
I ask it to stop—
My body slaps against a windowpane of ice
Raw, naked, and unwound.
“After,” he breathes, as I tremble like a leaf
“I’ll take you out for new clothes.”

My heart ticks, a broken clock wrapped in new clothes
A sound too loud to come from inside me
“Just think of after—“ he breathes, and I tremble like a leaf.
— as if it will ever stop —
A trick, a trap, his voice is a pleading wind
Falling through caverns of jaundice-coated ice.

He announces himself with clinking ice,
Consoles himself with a gift: for once it’s not clothes.
I compose a failed haiku about wax and wind
And how, if only for a moment, I want to own myself.
I cannot breathe until until everything stops
I cannot leave—

I fall like autumn’s last leaves
My voice shatters like ice
“He’ll never stop—”
I gather the coins, the needless clothing
Shards of glass littered around me
My voice is swallowed by the wind …

In life, at least for me,
Events are like a frayed cloth.
They continue to unwind.

Note to those who’ve read the Joey Getchie manuscript: I plan to replace the poem in part two with this one. Assuming you even remember the one which is there now. 🙂