Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Lisa Richter : Three poems



Fast Backward


Concord Casmir the cat has predicted spring weather by eating a perogy, as opposed to flipping it from side to side. Quite reasonable, this means of measuring how much longer we’ll be using our blue SAD light to stave off the bloated dark. I am but a lowly rolling pin and you my plot of ropey knotted muscle. Tomorrow is the Festival of Broken Needles, during which women will place a household’s intricate sundries and miscellanea on Shinto shrines: paper clips, stray earrings, bike keys flashing their buckled teeth. I sputter and simmer my envy of sacred miniatures a palm can cradle. Somewhere. off in the distance, but still close enough to tremor in viscera, the Great Lake rears its foaming head, taking a smattering of islands with it on the down-crash. I am a guitar neck and you my embracing capo. The street calves; it births toxic fumes; it chokes on its own offspring. A nimbostratus cloud patrols the block, laughably unthreatening. Squirrels protest evictions from tree encampments. Whoever thought we’d find ourselves here, nostalgic for the days of breezy coffee dates and benign divination. Buzzards draw near, circle near-extinct languages. I am a metal measuring cup and you my bag of steel-cut oats. A fan whirrs out our love in syncopated shadow. The only blades a body trusts.



I’m Not Being Hard on Myself, You’re Being Hard on Yourself


Why am I such a dunce, I ask my teapot,
as if it knew beehive from lacewing,
as if my spiraling had its roots in the travails
of a serial pragmatizer. It seems I am forever
revisiting that year of my life when everything felt
like a massive leveling, gypsum and wishbone
dust swimming in mucous membranes.
Isn’t this, really, what I’ve wanted all along?
Not absolution but acknowledgment, not a soapbox
but a touchstone, minus the cheesy synth?
Someone to hold the step-ladder when I need
something off the top shelf. It’s hard
to recall the moment I stopped occupying
myself with such trivialities as genealogical
excavation and took up lawn bowling, quoits
and other pastimes that involved the tossing
of metal and wood across a shimmering pitch.
How I turned like a two-bit Sisyphus
to rolling my own heart up a steep landfill
incline, bumping to a halt amidst all the other
obsolete mechanisms chillaxing in the no-man’s-land
of my idealism, sampling all the finger food.



At the Oracle of Delphi


At the Oracle of Delphi, flak was given and received.
A salamander could spend its life crawling over a door

hinge made of phosphorescent scrap metal.
There could be no mistaking the squeal of the lopsided

clouds set nightly ablaze. Even the stoplights were waterproof.
If you shuddered you would miss the turnoff.

What an uproar that day, when the silversmith’s
watchdog walked off the job, ignoring

the preparations in the works for its glorious veneration!
From the watchtower, you could observe

the sea in the process of berating itself,
each splendid, solid wave suddenly unfreezing

and slapping down onto the next. What was
to be done with this newfound similitude?

In the face of such exquisite insurrection,
who had time for forgiveness?





Lisa Richter is a Toronto-based poet, writer, and teacher. She is the author of two books of poetry, Closer to Where We Began and Nautilus and Bone, winner of the Canadian Jewish Literary Award for Poetry, the National Jewish Book Award for Poetry (US), the Robert Kroetsch Award, and longlisted for the Raymond Souster Award. Her work can be found in The Fiddlehead, The Malahat Review, Literary Review of Canada, The New Quarterly, and other places.

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