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Road Atlas; (Broken Free, the Mourning Cloak Butterfly Seeks the Swaddling of Its Cocoon.); Chimneys Impregnate the Clouds

Road Atlas

And nothing here either to indicate bypass body of water.

When I fell in love, it was just like that: a narrow, single lane bridge with a CAUTION sign before it.

“It is quite a misfortune,” my mother said, “that this should remind you of a fetal pig readied for dissection.”

All night, no one to tell us that OLD EXIT 8 had been changed to EXIT 5.

I did a U-turn, prayed: love me, god.

I learned that trick from a trucker; he traced a finger over an outdated road map.

No margin note informs that this particular REST AREA gives out free dreams, porn, excessive bad habits, or missals in its hand dyers.

And nothing to show heavy rain or orange cones or slick roads or ROAD WORK AHEAD or lanes which end without reason or else lanes which begin again without reason.

In this one, nothing proves that WYOMING should be a place to journey, if it weren’t for him.

POINTS OF INTEREST:  I feign to remember.

Old nights, when the morning glories burst with pretend, I used to spread it before me, dreaming of how far away.

She said she had one just like it, stapled too three times in the middle just like that, and she said he liked to open and spread it before him, poke his finger over the stars and

bullets, places where he’d like to go.

(“The red arteries mean one thing,” I had told her, “the blue veins another.”)

Nothing, I think, is worthy of being done again; and that TX HWY 90 is only a ghost leaving its snail trail we keep happening upon.

Point A to point B, the chart promises, can be transversed in x miles or typically in 77 years or 674,520 hours.

(Broken Free, the Mourning Cloak Butterfly Seeks the Swaddling of Its Cocoon.)

(With open mouths, the tulips wilt by the mailbox.)

(A boy cradles bottles in a basket.)

(I dreamt of an Egyptian sculpture last night.)

(I am telling you all of this as if in a dream.)

(The traveler will encounter angels in snowfall, will hear voices through fog.)

(Plucking string beans, Mother whispers stories.)

(The owl you heard last night eclipses your view of the moon.)

(Tonight, the clouds contemplate rain and shiver.)

(The moonlight on the pussy willows made me think love.)

(In this galaxy of spiraling wings, the living lie fetal.)

(The old loves gather, clutching bleeding scarves.)

(A trucker traces a finger over an outdated roadmap.)

(I counted to ten before opening my eyes to search for you.)

(The stars shift, the galaxy drifts, slowly, slowly.)

(Our lives burst like lilacs then leave.)

(After sunset, I discovered the match in my pocket.)


Chimneys Impregnate the Clouds

                        —after Cendrars and Apollinaire

The rosebug asleep & the rose’s heart, between us as between scissors, as are graveyards & high walls. 

Today, the women are bloodstained, & the smell of children fills the waiting rooms.

If I were a film-maker, I would scratch the emulsion, purposely plant light leaks, choose the rickety projector, skip the climax of the film, because I think you were possessed by an image, a symbol gliding through seaweed—a girl you find pretty but who is ugly & engaged. 

The cry of a whistle, a belly still heaving, I set the clock back each morning. 

In the center of this scene, a hydra hissed this winter, & an angel soared past the young trapeze artist to the tree hung with prayer. 

The little prostitute carries a dime detective novel & crimson quilt—as you your heart quit & our dreams are equally unreal, manufacturing reality at so much an hour.

Among piles of watermelon, milkmen clink bottles.


Jenny Boully

Boully's work has been anthologized in The Best American Poetry.


The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2005

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