Bio Note: I am the author of the poetry collection Kissing the Long Face of the Greyhound, the forthcoming Russian historical novel Infraction, and several other books. I sell my published poems in two vending machines in Chicago—one at a bookstore and one at brew pub—to raise money for a local nonprofit arts organization. I appear briefly in and do some of the narration for the documentary A Secret Love about All-American Girl ballplayer Terry Donhue and her long-time partner Pat Henschel.
Lifting Barrett Browning’s Hem
Today, for a while, I thought if I could only write a sonnet, my life would be measurably better. If only I could hear the little iambs, in their soft Italian shoes, skipping across the page, if only the couplets, with their matching handcuffs, weren’t so keen on restraining my thoughts and making beggars of my words, how neatly my days would fall in line, doubling up in doublets of meted time and a tidy turn of mind, sweet or salty little songs. Penning a sonnet would be like shaking the hand of Shakespeare or lifting the hem of Barrett Browning’s Portuguese dress. Instead, my poems are rambling affairs, unruly hounds of questionable origin, refusing to be pent up in a box and following their noses to some rank or delectable matter (sometimes one thing and the same). They are either stupid or free-spirited, but either way, they have no sense of time.
When you came home from the hospital, my wife says, your foot was like a potato with toes. My first thought is of an ocarina, round and brown and known in olden times as a sweet potato, my next being the song “Gimme a Pigfoot and a Bottle of Beer.” But why not think of my body as a vessel for music to pass through, like a bone scoured clean by sand, long and hollow, picked free of marrow, that hums a haunting lament every time the wind rushes by on its way to tomorrow.
©2021 Yvonne Zipter
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