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Ralph Monday-

Telegram to Wallace, Walt & Emily

I suppose I could have phoned, listened to the
Crack & hiss of ghost conversation. Talked about
white dresses, supreme fictions, slick body
electrics turned into Lennon’s Maharishi
inspired “Revolution.”

Or chatted about how busy you are licking
your wounds through Snapchat, a grammatically
incorrect text (Whitman would not mind),

or sex, or affairs with a married preacher, or
a high-browed old Christian woman who just
didn’t get it.

None of those: too dross, too trivial for shades
walking the underworld conversing with
Virgil & Dante.

Instead I sent an old fashioned telegram.
Thus the rosied lips of May carrying
meager pronouncements as a stone bears
moss.

I did not ask of the first rib,
immaculate conceptions,
a non-existent fruit never tasted.

I did not ask of death,
lazy Sunday mornings,
or the meaning of grass.

Instead, quaint tap tap tap
Morse code flown out on
yellowed paper to an
unknown address.

_______________

The Girl in the White Dress

The mirror, a silver moon,
conjures up the
girl from the settlement
town, scissored tan long legs
sweeping forward beneath the
thin, white dress, eating up the land,
the miles, dissolving behind her
whatever myth it is that she flees.

A stream of song lays her longing
behind her
like discarded lover’s clothes,
like an October without color,
enigma of knowing, of feeling
whether in the dark or light of
day.

Who loved who, or was there no love,
smear of truth, enigma of lies.
I can read her Morse code mind, tap tap
as she flees: streaks of mental text
flashed across the glass, that hurt, that bruise,
that laugh over wine.

I see her other side, the one she left, tangle
of truth & memory.
Pause & give me a moment. Pause but for
a clock tick. Then I would read your
iconography, your mythology.
I would know your landscape like no
other, the lines of you, architecture of
physical things, the terrible event
that tore you away.

This doesn’t have to remain in the deep
bone marrow. Let me give light,
the strange shimmer of the borealis.
Lie down in the road & let me kindle
the ashed fire.

Go with me to still waters and drink
mercy spun like silk from my fingertips.

_______________

The Word

I am woman they say.
I am mystery they say.
For I can undream the stone,
the sea, the sky.

Physics is the miracle of existence
which allows my actions,
eyeballing from every window, the ground
itself.

The universe doesn’t blare out in megaphone
bursts.

Three is a perfect number, a triangle perfect
structure.

As mystery, even I do not know the
ferryman of the dead.
Our maps do not matter.
The golden fleece can now be found
photoshopped on the net.

But I can trigger warning incantations—
how sapphire comes from flame
sound merely vibrations of the music
of the spheres, twisting waves like
DNA strands speaking reality by the
word.

This is my power—like gypsies
transforming my mind
to make me antique again as Paleolithic
rain, strip the patina of eons away
where the man-made ether has faded.

I am awake.
I am hungry.
I am the word.

_______________

Without a Mirror

He is driving on a road, maybe in the
Midwest, maybe the south, perhaps
somewhere in Colorado. He doesn’t
know, no one knows.

The moment unknown, everyone
forgets that Echo also flew from
Narcissus.

But on this road, somewhere, sometime,
crumpled newspapers tumbleweed
rolling, discarded gum wrappers,
rusted 1940s cars rejected like a lost
presidential campaign,

the same when love comes to an end, a
marriage severed by one lost in the
blood-red mists the

last day she lay on a ticking hospital
bed. It’s love that left, we’ll say
when you never returned to toll for the
dead.

So you drive, there with moon white
knuckles on the wheel, living with
ghosts.

When it happened the rain
was not white, not the clear
substance of young love
unspoiled by age, experience,
tragedy, but a

muted blaze dribbled across an
event horizon.

Past noise drips from your
ears where your wife
strides from the FM
on an old 50s song,

and like that flash
ordinariness bright
as spring mayapples

births the extraordinary
riding toward a rumored
future holding no more truth
than she holding the song in her
teeth, an
amateur propaganda team

like an old teacher behind a desk,
ruler in hand, so
that he says I have forgot
what time the purple grapes
come to juice.

I have forgot
drinking blackberry wine in the rain, the
wet streaming down your thin dress,

where love had not yet faded, as
now,
a partial language, incomplete pantomime.

_______________

The Mountain and the Man

There outside the window, the
bright sun, bitter cold, like a
sleeping eagle the mountain
towers up bare bones
exposed.

You can hear it wind
talking, tongue-like gullies
crusting its side, tromboned
muteness merely an aside
for the rock thoughts
coursing through the dirt
beneath, like some electronic
cyber chatter.

Though it knows nothing of the
generations of man, the rocky
behemoth has patiently endured
all the centuries of romantic
crumbling, ill-placed reason,
faithless religious mutterings
like some limestone and
granite Job

whistling in the dark
for an end, for man turned
to salt, ocean-burned
tears that no still-framed
movie can ever capture.

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Ralph Monday is a Professor of English at Roane State Community College in Harriman, TN., and has published hundreds of poems in over 100 journals. A chapbook, All American Girl and Other Poems, was published in July 2014. A book Empty Houses and American Renditions was published May 2015 by Aldrich Press. A Kindle chapbook Narcissus the Sorcerer was published June 2015 by Odin Hill Press. An e-book, Bergman’s Island & Other Poems is scheduled for publication by Poetry Repairs in Feb. of 2017.

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