Mudlark Flash No. 72 (2012)

Six Poems by Samn Stockwell

Of Late | Molting Season | Selected Holiday Conversation at a Bakery
Cold Stove | After Milosz | The Unclaimed Territories

Of Late

Here joins the grey cat to the goldfish
in eternal companionship, nudging the remains
of five dogs. We honor the past best
by not trying to relive it —
no more grey cats or shallow graves!

Wiping our eyes with the ruckled skin
on the backs of our hands, we thank those
whose sacrifices were neither brave 
nor meaningful by weeping freely over the inevitable.

When the debris is swept off the stage at our passing,
Our history written by those who have none,
And the small armory of our affection plundered —
Citizens, we will know liberty.

Molting Season

Hope said We’re old women
but the waitress continued whispering specials
deep into her sleeves, and tables shuffled and exploded 
around us as we sipped wine.

A young woman, next table over,
pointed to her tattoo and said
this is my girlfriend, we being
a convexity of lesbians, and so old
we chew the carapace of crabs
as though it was buttered toast.

In our alien childhoods, we were flayed:
not heard, and not hearing,
the future toppled before we reached it. 
The worst epoch
is the epoch of no hope.

Outside the restaurant, a blond samurai
is sauntering down the street
and a woman after her
screaming I created you , I, I.

Selected Holiday Conversation at a Bakery

I didn’t get out of bed all day
but I’m worried, 
and he isn’t, thank God
Yes, we are talking about work again
I’m meeting my sisters in New York 
for a concert, maybe I’ll take the train
I just want to sit and talk,
sit and talk but I never have the time
to make cookies, it’s like that every year,
the dog’s in the car
the food is good, the electricity back on,
the wood stove on the first floor, the heat
rises but never enough.

Cold Stove

The last of the old guys feels disease
ping through his nervous system. 

Before pain addles his feet
he circles, asking
Was I right? Am I enough?

He sups with the angel of death —
she has an IQ  of 12.

He writes to his students,
makes butterscotch pudding.

He waves the flag of his rituals
and continues steering 
by the promise of habit
as though bathing in rose petals,
watching his absence grow.

After Milosz

                                                            After Preparation
As soon as I have finished preparing,
I will be able to tell the truth.
It will include the mountains and their absence 
in the lives of certain troubled peoples.
I can already say the painted things,
the bits of work on the stage —
see, I can make the smoke appear 
after the cannons have been fired.
I am certain permission is about to go through —
I have passed the exams.
In view of my history,
they may feel I’ve cheated.


The Unclaimed Territories

My grandparents were a clock
unpeeling the new
from everything age adorns.

Sunday dinner the table was set with ruby glasses. 
My grandmother grew lipstick-colored blossoms
pricking the air near souvenir plates
from places so distant they couldn’t be pronounced.

My grandfather whacked the head off the chicken
and reached inside to pull out four gold balls.
He shook his head and said
madam will have her roast chicken.

Samn Stockwell has been widely published, and her two books, Theater of Animals and Recital, won
the National Poetry Series and the Editor’s Prize at Elixir, respectively. Recent work has appeared in
Raritan and Sinister Wisdom.   

Copyright © Mudlark 2012
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