Sunday, June 5, 2011

it's not that I don't love you

I’m in my parent’s bedroom
the house is on fire
the phone is ringing
I know it’s you
but cannot answer
not now not now
it’s not that I don’t want to
it’s not that I don’t love you
but the house is on fire
and I have to get out
and I’ve forgotten how
the door is latched,
it’s latched and I’m paralyzed,
forgetting how things work
how to open doors
how to free myself.

once I fell into a strange
seizure on my mother’s side of the bed
she came to wake me
but I couldn’t move
I spoke, but my words were gibberish,
a glossolalia from the other side,
the place of peeling birches
and red roots
that dragged along the mossy banks.
she was terrified
and I was trying to tell her that I
was ok
I’m ok, Mom.  I’m ok.
she said that my eyes were open
but rolled back to whites.

my brother is outside
he’s telling me to lift the latch
a bit incredulously,
Duh, lift the latch.
mockingly, but scared for me, too.
you’re doing it wrong:
Lift the Latch.

and there it is
that rusty hook
how many times did I shift this
dark crook out of its eye
just unthinkingly
a mere finger flip
to get to the back porch
swinging the screen door out
to the trumpeter vine
to the garden
to sit with a small bowl
of new strawberries
that I had easily lifted
from their sand.


  1. Funny your poem and quiet claustrophobic.
    I've been watching lately a TV series where two men are helplessly trying to get out of a bus but they haven't yet managed to do it. And the most awkward thing is that they seem to be both paralised and unable to find how the handler works. And the bus is also on fire with intense flames almost reachind the gas tank. (Can you imagine the fire work? It's really one of those Hollywood nonsenses).
    I'm not sure if their eyes still roll over but I'm sure their heads does. :) What an extraordinary coincidence. Cheers

  2. No, its not that the speaker doesn't love, but rather she can't, due to the scene invoked here, with all the chains of history intact --Always Back There is a room locked from the heart's side, a place of serious harm and damage; and getting out (for the poem's purposes, at least) is a matter of naming what's in there properly or sufficiently or ferally enough. The access changes with a word, with this black bouquet's spray of words. Nightmare of history or an episode from a history of nightmares, the frozen-stuck paralysis of the seizure is a form of crucifixion, isn't it? Paying for someone else's sins, "It is finished' bubbling out at incoherent glossalalia. The meaningless doppler of every meaningful word we try to come up with. And when,duh, the latch lifts so easily. Tell that to a fear. Convince that to an cornered intimacy. - Brendan

  3. So often it seems that with a glint of a shift, just one hair-breadth's shift, everything changes. What was invisible is visible. What was blinding is in shadow. What I feared was empowering.

  4. claustrophobic is right.

    love this, Miss Jane.

  5. The last 3 stanzas are strong, the first one I would consider leaving out (that's just me).

    Overall, a stunning poem. I'm on my knees.

  6. Your poem grips my stomach with its realistic expression of fear. I have felt it.

  7. Thanks all.
    Terresa. I see your point.
    The first stanza isn't very "poetic", but it sets up the story in a way that is important to me--and I'd have to change the title (!)