Rancid, Gladys

By Brent Terry

 

I am not radio friendly. I am not frequency, 
I mean frequently tuned-in, 
seldom turned on, (no hummable hooks) but still 
I broadcast my etudes my little ditties,
which may someday be received 
by sensitive mechanisms. Pseudopodia will tap, 
antennae will wave, and thus will I be big 
on Alpha Centauri the way Night Ranger is big 
in Japan. If I am buttons, the zeitgeist is a zipper: 
efficient, sure, but bereft of anticipatory fumbling.
No sweaty palms. Her voice going suddenly husky 
the tastiest kiss is the kiss stolen behind the drapes 
at the party, lips devoured like canapés, the feasters 
groping backlit on someone’s terrace where lightning 
licks the last morsel of song from the throat 
of the nightingale. Is it a love song - the note stuck 
behind the refrigerator magnet, the note that says 
the milk is rancid, Gladys, but the raspberries 
are sweet. Is it still a love song 
if she leaves for the market and never comes back, 
everything you ever said to her lost, 
spinning off into the galactic nevermore like slang, 
already out of date where syllables coalesce 
into a sloggy gibberish and stagger off to die 
behind the fridge? Lightning licks shadows 
shaped like kisses from my wall. Thunder mumbles 
its incoherent odes, while the canary, bright 
on her perch of flame, stands mute. 
Across the alley a party flares dimly, inside me 
singing. Somewhere far away a spaceman 
starts tapping his feet.


Brent Terry is the author of two collections of poetry, yesnomaybe (Main Street Rag, 2001) and Wicked, Excellently (Custom Words, 2007).



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