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Arlene Ang & Valerie Fox

 

Other Ways of Seeing in the Dark
Arlene Ang

 

We’ve disappeared—

                  there’s no light at the end of this cigarette now.

 

           Stanza

in Italian doesn’t exist inside the poem. It is
                          a room

                                        with one or more bodies.

The hand with a missing thumb
pours absence from a bottle of grappa.

           Our twin jiggers

aren’t steady; they easily overflow.
I wet myself and learn

                  what it means to be highly flammable.

                                        Underfoot, more dead skin cells.

           I believe in God,

we assure each other, or some other equivalent.
The need to focalize on the abstract

               is a symptom, a fear of the dark.

 

We pride ourselves
on our ability to build defenses against—

 

           Sorry, old man.

                             Memory deletes itself in the chalk
outline around the corpse.

                What do you know of orphans?

We hold hands, like saints,
and pretend we’re clasping a .38 Special.

 

 

After a while, wine-tasting—
Arlene Ang and Valerie Fox

 

becomes secondary to the self-importance
of being drunk. Fix me if you can.

You can’t. Document how much
I’ve forgotten. Gaze upon my teeth if you must.

I’m not like those women who forget
they aren’t 29. You see, as each one of us fails,
the rest of the rat population mimics
a resurrection of care. Everyone but we

had the goiter. It was the spaghetti.
It was our fate. It’s not so much the twinning

of our fingers as the slapdash incongruities
we use to defend our eating habits.

In the middle of the bed, green phlegm.
Could be you. Could be me. Waking up one morning.

They’ve got us where they want us
like a thirty-year war just by sitting with us

in front of the news. One aunt drinking too much.
One uncle not drinking enough.

The rest is the family tree.
Everyone is a funeral waiting to happen.

 

 

Arlene Ang’s poetry collections include Secret Love Poems (Rubicon Press, 2007), Bundles of Letters Including A, V and Epsilon (Texture Press, 2008), co-written with Valerie Fox, and Seeing Birds in Church Is a Kind of Adieu (Cinnamon Press, 2010). Her poems have appeared in Ambit, Caketrain, Diagram, Poetry Ireland, Poet Lore, Rattle, Salt Hill as well as the Best of the Web anthologies 2008 and 2009 (Dzanc Books). She lives in Spinea, Italy where she designs books for Texture Press and serves as staff editor for The Pedestal Magazine. Website: www.leafscape.org.

 

Valerie Fox recently published Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets, with Lynn Levin (Texture Press, 2013). Her previous books of poems include The Rorschach Factory (Straw Gate Books, 2006) and Bundles of Letters Including A, V and Epsilon (a compilation with Arlene Ang, Texture Press, 2008). She has published work in Hanging Loose, Apiary, West Branch, Sentence, Ping Pong, and other journals. She teaches at Drexel University, in Philadelphia, and lives with her family in New Jersey. She's been blogging at www.poemsforthewriting.com.

 

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MadHat, Issue 15, Winter 2013-2014