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
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
I did not ask of the first rib,
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
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
like discarded lover’s clothes,
like an October without color,
enigma of knowing, of feeling
whether in the dark or light of
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.
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
The universe doesn’t blare out in megaphone
Three is a perfect number, a triangle perfect
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
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
But on this road, somewhere, sometime,
crumpled newspapers tumbleweed
rolling, discarded gum wrappers,
rusted 1940s cars rejected like a lost
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
So you drive, there with moon white
knuckles on the wheel, living with
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
Past noise drips from your
ears where your wife
strides from the FM
on an old 50s song,
and like that flash
as spring mayapples
births the extraordinary
riding toward a rumored
future holding no more truth
than she holding the song in her
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
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
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
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
whistling in the dark
for an end, for man turned
to salt, ocean-burned
tears that no still-framed
movie can ever capture.
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.