Today's poem is by Debra Kang Dean

Single-Lens Reflex

These twitches, the mind's reflex—
as if out of the soil, memory's crop
pushing its way up, each persistent shoot
lifting aside what burden to unreel
itself to light? I have seen a bulb blow up
or so it seemed, filmed in time lapse. Exposed,

here, I'm recalling an exposé
on the tube. Run's the body's reflex.
In my mind's eye, a close-up turns blow up
of a thin man with close-cropped
dark hair mouthing a scream—so unreal
my mouth's mouthing, Don't shoot.

Who do I think I am. A bystander, I shoot
rolls of film, prints over-exposed
like the theater's black-and-white newsreels
my child self counted backwards with, a reflex.
The mind's a land mine, a bird crop
stopped up, sometimes threatening to blow up.

How many months before the final blow up
had I made up my mind to shoot
from the hip? He wouldn't nip or crop
each grievance this time. My ex posed.
I hugged my pillow, knees tucked, a reflex
to try to stay the room's mad reeling.

Today, the world seems a little surreal.
A girl in pink dress blows up
a green balloon—tries to. Its reflex
is to contract. Sucking used air, "Shoot,"
she chokes. She grins, exposes
black space, baby teeth a harvested crop.

My camera flashes. Time will crop
the photographs, do what I will. I reel
the film back till the first exposure's
swallowed up. Already memory's blow up
or this moment is being developed. Oh, shoot,
I sigh, but too late to short circuit the reflex.

Sometimes I fear smoke is my true crop. It blows up-
ward and dissipates. I can't reel it in, can't shoot
to a stand down this bent, this exposed by now reflex.

Copyright © 2006 Debra Kang Dean All rights reserved
from River Styx
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

Support Verse Daily
Sponsor Verse Daily!

Home    Archives   Web Monthly Features    About Verse Daily   FAQs  Submit to Verse Daily   River Styxs Noted & Received  

Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 Verse Daily All Rights Reserved