Online Poems By Thylias Moss


Online Poems By Thylias Moss Essay, Research Paper


By Thylias Moss

They kick and flail like crabs on their backs.

Parents outside the nursery window do not believe

they might raise assassins or thieves, at the very worst.

a poet or obscure jazz Musician whose politics

spill loudly from his horn.

Everything about it was wonderful, the method

of conception, the gestation, the womb opening

in perfect analogy to the mind’s expansion.

Then the dark succession of constricting years,

mother competing with daughter for beauty and losing,

varicose veins and hot-water bottles, joy boiled away,

the arrival of knowledge that eyes are birds with clipped wings,

the sun at a 30? angle and unable to go higher, parents

who cannot push anymore, who stay by the window

looking for signs of spring

and the less familiar gait of grown progeny.

I am now at the age where I must begin to pay

for the way I treated my mother. My daughter is just like me.

The long trip home is further delayed, my presence

keeps the plane on the ground. If I get off, it will fly.

The propeller is a cross spinning like a buzz saw

about to cut through me. I am haunted and my mother is not dead.

The miracle was not birth but that I lived despite my crimes.

I treated God badly also; he is another parent

watching his kids through a window, eager to be proud

of his creation, looking for signs of spring.

From Small Congregations, Ecco Press, Hopewell, NJ

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The dreams float like votive lilies

then melt.

It is the way they sing

going down that I envy and to hear it

I could not rescue them. A dirge

reaches my ears like a corkscrew of smoke

And it sits behind my eyes like a piano roll

Some say this is miracle water

None say dreams made it so


Long ago a fish forgot what fins were good for

And flew out of the stream

It was not dreaming

It had no ambition but confusion

In Nova Scotia it lies on ice in the sun

and its eye turns white and pops out like a pearl

when it’s broiled

The Titanic is the one that got away.

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Truth is, I envy them

not because they dance; I out jitterbug them

as I’m shuttled through and through legs

strong as looms, weaving time. They

do black more justice than I, frenzy

of conductor of philharmonic and electricity, hair

on end, result of the charge when horns and strings release

the pent up Beethoven and Mozart. Ions played

instead of notes. The movement

is not wrath, not hormone swarm because

I saw my first forming above the church a surrogate

steeple. The morning of my first baptism and

salvation already tangible, funnel for the spirit

coming into me without losing a drop, my black

guardian angel come to rescue me before all the words

get out, I looked over Jordan and what did I see coming for

to carry me home. Regardez, it all comes back, even the first

grade French, when the tornado stirs up the past, bewitched spoon

lost in its own spin, like a roulette wheel that won’t

be steered like the world. They drove me underground,

tornado watches and warnings, atomic bomb drills. Adult

storms so I had to leave the room. Truth is

the tornado is a perfect nappy curl, tightly wound,

spinning wildly when I try to tamper with its nature, shunning

the hot comb and pressing oil even though if absolutely straight

I’d have the longest hair in the world. Bouffant tornadic

crown taking the royal path on a trip to town, stroll down

Tornado Alley where it intersects Memory Lane. Smoky spirit-

clouds, shadows searching for what cast them.

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How will we get used to joy

if we won’t hold onto it?

Not even extinction stops me; when

I’ve sufficient craving, I follow the buffalo,

their hair hanging below their stomachs like

fringes on Tiffany lampshades; they can be turned on

so can I by a stampede, footsteps whose sound

is my heart souped up, doctored, ninety pounds

running off a semi’s invincible engine. Buffalo

heaven is Niagara Falls. There their spirit

gushes. There they still stampede and power

the generators that operate the Tiffany lamps

that let us see in some of the dark. Snow

inundates the city bearing their name; buffalo

spirit chips later melt to feed the underground,

the politically dredlocked tendrils of roots. And this

has no place in reality, is trivial juxtaposed with

the faces of addicts, their eyes practically as sunken

as extinction, gray ripples like hurdlers’ track lanes

under them, pupils like just more needle sites.

And their arms: flesh trying for a moon apprenticeship,

a celestial antibody. Every time I use it

the umbrella is turned inside out,

metal veins, totally hardened arteries and survival

without anything flowing within, nothing saying

life came from the sea, from anywhere but coincidence

or God’s ulcer, revealed. Yet also, inside out

the umbrella tries to be a bouquet, or at least

the rugged wrapping for one that must endure much,

without dispensing coherent parcels of scent,

before the refuge of vase in a room already accustomed

to withering mind and retreating skin. But the smell

of the flowers lifts the corners of the mouth as if

the man at the center of this remorse has lifted her

in a waltz. This is as true as sickness. The Jehovah’s

Witness will come to my door any minute with tracts, an

inflexible agenda and I won’t let him in because

I’m painting a rosy picture with only blue and

yellow (sadness and cowardice).

I’m something of an alchemist. Extinct.

He would tell me time is running out.

I would correct him: time ran out; that’s why

history repeats itself, why we can’t advance.

What joy will come has to be here right now: Cheer

to wash the dirt away, Twenty Mule Team Borax and

Arm & Hammer to magnify Cheer’s power, lemon-scented

bleach and ammonia to trick the nose, improved–changed–

Tide, almost all-purpose starch that cures any limpness

except impotence. Celebrate that there’s Mastercard

to rule us, bring us to our knees, the protocol we follow

in the presence of the head of our state of ruin, the

official with us all the time, not inaccessible in

palaces or White Houses or Kremlins. Besides every

ritual is stylized, has patterns and repetitions

suitable for adaptation to dance. Here come toe shoes,

brushstrokes, oxymorons. Joy

is at our tongue tips: let the great thirsts and hungers

of the world be the marvelous thirsts, glorious hungers.

Let hearbreak be alternative to coffeebreak, five

midmorning minutes devoted to emotion.

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Raising a Humid Flag

Enough women over thirty are at Redbones for

the smell of Dixie Peach to translate the air.

I drink when I’m there because you must have

some transparency in this life and you can’t see

through the glass till it’s empty. Of course I get

next to men with broad feet and bull nostrils to

ward off isolation. You go to Redbones after

you’ve been everywhere else and can see the rainbow

as fraud, a colorful frown.

The best part is after midnight when the crowd

at its thickest raises a humid flag and hotcombed

hair reverts to nappy origins. I go to Redbones to

put an end to denial. Dixie Peach is a heavy pomade

like canned-ham gelatin. As it drips down foreheads

and necks, it’s like tallow dripping down candles

in sacred places.

From AT REDBONES, CSU Poetry Series XXIX.

Copyright ? 1998 Thylias Moss.

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