Poetry For Our Time

Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason. -Novalis

cardiac arrest (for Karen Carpenter)

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Sorry to keep posting the old poems, but this is another one that sort of never got a chance. I actually thought about posting it last night instead of the “Alice” one, but I’m glad I waited. I heard on the radio this morning that today is the anniversary of the death of the person who’s the subject of this poem… I did not know the anniversary was today, no joke, but now I simply have to post it, if for no other reason than in honor of her.



                                    “I know I ask perfection of a quite imperfect world

                                    and fool enough to think that’s what I’ll find.”

                                                            The Carpenters, “I Need to Be in Love”


come quietly and see.


the foot a pendulum, keeping easy quarter-time


one chord on a gentle piano pressed,

the ankle pulsing


glissando in E major chasing up the leg


and then: strings join a recorder

purring a simple tune


they frame the slow rise—


wobbly knees, taut thighs,

square pelvis, middle, pancake breasts,

shoulders clavicle thin thin reddened neck

chin.  two lips.  a delicate nose

and eyes

pulled thin skin

opened wide


her brother coming forward

a thin white sheet in hand


and so begins the mummification.

binding the ankles together

                                                                                            here is a piano a bass a set of drums

encircling the knees, tingle, tingle, then

bashing them with his palms, turning them purple


she wobbles as he pulls the fabric around

her pretzel thighs


binding the pelvis into perfect nothing

                                                                                            here, sister, listen

                                                                                            this arrangement I wrote.

                                                                                            we will have a full orchestra,

                                                                                            percussion, oboes, piano.

                                                                                            your voice the center

                                                                                            of a grand show.

pulling it tighter, tighter


wrapping the breasts

the malnourished slumping shoulders

straitjacket back

skin grating taut

against brittle clavicle

                                                                                            sister, sing.

                                                                                            sister, sing it this way.

                                                                                            yes, sister.


the mummification almost complete.

a head a neck a voice

and a bodyless wonder


with one gesture of his hand


from the depths of an oozing diaphragm

comes the alto voice—

smooth, warm, silkening


he pulls it from her throat

with a coathanger


and her eyes widen

as she sees it clatter, hollowed on the floor.


                                                                                            we’ve only just begun…



Written by Molly M M

February 5, 2009 at 2:56 am

Posted in Poem

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