Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Two Poems by Ralph Monday

Polonius, Hamlet, and Words Words Words

She said that words create reality.
I replied that reality creates words.
Not what Foucault, Derrida said.
Did orange and red create a sunset,
or a sunset gave voice to the hues
burning against a blemished sky?
Was violence and terror the offspring
of songs around a campfire, or the
name given to the aftermath of
Tiananmen Square?
Was rock and roll coined by Alan Freed,
or was it sex in the backseat turned into
an Elvis Dionysian performance that
started the 50s platters turning?
Did Hamlet create the words or Claudius
the poison?
The girl next door, white picket fences,
Mr. Rogers' cardigan sweaters, the bikini,
pearl necklaces, white gloves, TV dinners,
poodle skirts, drive-ins, Mamie van Doren,
green and blue and yellow and crimson,
raindrops and tears, muscle cars and muscle
men--did Plato pluck them from the ether
as concrete vibrations like strumming a cello?
What about love she said.
Or hate, pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed,
sloth, the night, the day, the stars, sun and moon,
global warming, ozone depletion, all the fairy
tales ever dreamed by ogres or trolls or witches--
do we only share skin or shed it off like a
snake sloughing away last year's growth?
What about love she said again.
Find love like a gleaming penny and the words
will come.

The Not So Secret Life of Human Insects

The most powerful human symbol is the
female body.
Their hourglass figures stare out at the
unwary in the checkout line.
Their breasts soft as ripe apples,
lips rouged for the bleeding,
hair like filaments in a widow's web,
no wonder that mantis is a Greek word
for prophet,
where smart women reading from their
bodily tarot,
smile knowingly at the male aching
in his reproductive gonads.
Hypnotized by the secret code of
The bar hopping toad before his belly
packs fat like sautéed ribs,
dense skull not yet a bare glacial
pack creeping like basement
secure in his immature power,
he has not yet lost his head
to the mantis' clavicles.
That will come.
And when the sharp pincers
have done their deed,
he, headless, can only stare
from the slick floor
with smeared eyeballs
She prepares the nest
with a sharp lipstick
taken from her purse
turned burrow.

Ralph Monday is an Associate Professor of English at Roane State Community College in Harriman, TN, where he teaches composition, literature, and creative writing courses.  In fall 2013, he had poems published in The New Plains Review, New Liberties Review, Fiction Weekly Literary Review, and was represented as the featured poet with 12 poems in the December issue of Poetry  Repairs.  In winter 2014, he had poems published in Dead Snakes.  Summer 2014 will see a poem in Contemporary Poetry:  An Anthology of Best Present Day Poems.  His work has appeared in publications such as The Phoenix, Bitter Creek Review, Full of Crow, Impressions, Kookamonga Square, Deep Waters, Jacket Magazine, The New Plains Review, New Liberties Review, Crack the Spine, The Camel Saloon, Dead Snakes, Pyrokinection, and Poetry Repairs.  His first book, Empty Houses and American Renditions will be published by Hen House Press in Fall 2014.


1 comment:

  1. Both poems are exceptionally well written. "Words Words Words" presents a unique perspective on how reality is constructed through language, while "Human Insects" gives an ironic twist on male/female relationships. Both poems use very interesting voices.