Elaine Equi: Three poems

  Elaine Equi

  Three poems

  Followed by a Hologram
Into the
cool dark

of leaves

by the wind
of trains rushing
beneath my feet.

are slits
of light,

like women –
the idea
of women –
inviting one in.

are snipers

on the roofs
of buildings.

It is the hour
for the changing
of the guard –

when mannequins
become revelers

and revelers
become mannequins.

Johnny Depp
looks down
on me

like I’m an ant
clutching my crumb
of mocha macaroon.

Our eyes lock.

He could crush me
if he wanted,

without moving
a muscle
of his non-being,

but for tonight,
lets me pass.

  I Know a Place
I often visit the future. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but I feel I’m really someplace that hasn’t yet materialized. For this reason, things are lighter, quicker – as if the law of gravity didn’t have quite as much authority. This physical sensation is one of the ways I can tell it’s the future. I don’t go to foresee events or witness wonders. I go to relax, to wander, as if it were a resort.

Recently, I found myself there, standing on a shore, watching an old-fashioned steamboat pass slowly by. It looked like something out of Life on the Mississippi or maybe, Showboat. I could easily have thought I was in the past, but it somehow looked too shiny and new – idealized, like a sentimental version of the past one could only find long after the reality of it had been revised. There was lively, bluegrass music coming from the boat, and couples dancing on the deck. They wore old-fashioned clothes that also looked brand new. This just minted quality, as I was saying, is another telltale sign of the future.

Many years ago, I remember a conversation I had with a foreign student. I was working as a tutor and a good part of the time was spent simply talking about movies, food, the differences between our cultures. Sometimes, though, there would be awkward silences. After one such lull, I said: “So where would you like to spend most of your time, if you could choose — in the past, the present, or the future?”

She looked at me quizzically, as if I were trying to explain something about grammar and tenses, so I went on. “I like the future best. The past makes me feel tired when I’m already tired. Even in the present, sometimes I can hardly get up. But the future can still be – I don’t know – nice.” She was thoughtful for a moment, then nodded. “I like the future best too,” she said.

  The World Being Unspoken
Listening backwards –

dissolving the word
and its descendants

into a soft, amphibious
carpet of sound.

Hiss of stars
and gassy planets —

the rabbit
of the alphabet

drops back
into the void
of the black hat.

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