Today's poem is by James Brasfield

        I stand on the end platform of the tram and am completely
        unsure of my footing in this world. .. I can see the whole ridge
        of the whorl of her right ear and the shadow at the root of it.
            -FRANZ KAFKA


Another night, another packed trolley
approaches through rain—
all those faces at the windows,
taking the wide curve slowly
over the puddled street
rising, reflecting scattered lights
around the square.
                          The wheels rumble—
their distant squeak and heavy scraping.
I don't need to see sparks fly to know
electricity's out there. The Dnieper's
dark width curves around the hip of Podol.
The Black Sea waits, but I'm not so sure
about the moon and stars I've not seen
in weeks, even late, coming back to my room,
to the Westclox I wind daily
for its iambs, downbeat
for the stray dogs barking.

The word is out, Another hard winter
is on the way. Man-made or not,
it is not enough to say, It is all just
in the planet's revolving on its axis.


In Moscow, red Parisian fish
by Matisse, Goldfish,
wait in the master's cylindrical bowl
flanked by arrangements
of flowers and plants
that just might paper the wall.
In that borrowed world
abstract strokes at the surface
are reflections of fish,
their eyes open in the clear water
upright and still on the round table
balanced on two thin legs
with no allusion to a third—
all cropped between the curved arm of a chair
and pink blossoms on the black floor.


In Kyiv, citizens decipher the surface
as at the Pole, an Eskimo
reads snow, as in Baltimore a man
might read the Sun in that Southern city
where The Blue Nude reclines, framed
behind a pane of glass. She might be
anywhere, come back, too cold
from shadows set high in deep perspective.

She contemplates the singularity
in her right arm and hand,
turned parallel to her body—not time
nor place, but these very parts of her,
like the semicircles of the vegetation,
like the circles of her breasts....

A chair set out on the beach at night,
a seat on the crowded trolley
about to stop, or the chair in Moscow
might be hers.
                    We can see
the sensation that she feels,
the moment of our being in her stare.

Copyright © 2010 James Brasfield All rights reserved
from Ledger of Crossroads
Louisiana State University Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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