Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Three Poems by Philip Dacey


                "It was by laying on the golden handcuffs
                      that Germany set itself free."
                                          Timothy Garton Ash

Your hands together
could be at prayer,
an amen of brilliant circles.

Or what weighs your wrists
is jewelry
from the tombs of kings,
all you need to wear
as you approach your lover,
the days of your life.

Each cuff is as light
as an act of will,
the word no.

The click of closure
echoes down through the years.

The golden handcuffs
are a season,
a moment.
You must handcuff yourself
again and again.

The key to unlock
the golden handcuffs
is simulated gold
and will be offered by your enemy
to ensnare you into a false

As your hands master
the art of doing it
to themselves,
you realize Houdini
took the easy way.

You fly best
not by flapping your arms at your side
but by holding them close to your chest,
the two become a single
perfectly aerodynamic


Hands blown off
at the touch of skin to skin.
The heart’s streets
flooded with revolutionaries
headed for the palace.

Apollo trying to reason it all out,
calculating with pen and paper,
getting it all wrong,
as Mathew Brady arranges the bodies
of the scattered pairs of lovers

and photographs the carnage.
At night, the anarchists
enter a bedroom and spread
their maps and diagrams all across
the covers of the sleeping couple.

The heart in a backpack ticks, ticks.
Tall Aphrodite, naked except
for a swathe of diaphanous cloth,
strolls through the crowded marketplace,
leaving in her wake overturned

carts, oranges and melons
rolling in the dirt,
a rioting populace.
To sow anarchy or love—
what is the difference?

                  THEME AND VARIATIONS

    “The rain drizzled its effects over the whole scene.”
                                            from a letter

Her eyes drizzled their effects all over my day.
The President drizzles his effects all over the nation.
Mothers drizzle their effects over their children.
The lie drizzled its effects over the marriage.

Fortuna drizzles her effects upon her favorites.
Money drizzles its effects over love
when love isn’t drizzling its effects over money.
History drizzles its effects over the present.

The present drizzles its effects over memory.
The billy club drizzled its effects on the marcher’s head.
The priest drizzled his effects on the congregation.
The bow drizzled its effects on the violin.

Language drizzles its effects over everything.
Beginnings drizzle their effects over endings.

Philip Dacey is the winner of three Pushcart Prizes and author of eleven books, most recently Mosquito Operas: New and Selected Short Poems (Rain Mountain Press, 2010) and Vertebrae Rosaries: 50 Sonnets (Red Dragonfly Press, 2008) as well as whole collections about Gerard Manley Hopkins, Thomas Eakins, and New York City.  His twelth book, Gimme Five, won the Blue Light Press 2012 Book Award and will appear in 2013.  He recently moved from Manhattan’s Upper West Side to Minneapolis.

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