A Touch of Sin
Woody Allen’s films always express unconscious
Sexuality, a dive into the flowing liquid of mind
And desire, where Puritans walk, 17th century
Schizophrenia worrying over women’s underwear.
Hollywood, ambivalent, continued the articulation
In 75mm cinemascope, walking between the femme
Fatale and Mamie van Doren.
Striptease became vogue with Jekyll and Hyde,
Confused lovers, developing a Victorian oeuvre—
Where Eve ate the tainted tamarillo,
Lilith huffed off because she couldn’t ride, the
Cinema skirt now must fall on her knees.
There are many frames in the garden, bad women
Directing the scene. Hysteria rampant, Hitchcock
Transforms them all into androgynous voyeurs,
Watching through the window.
There has to be a show, you see. Cinderella just
Won’t do. National identity constructed in
Rehearsals behind stage left, the female body,
Object floating in space, sexuality sown between
This is no comedy about a group of losers, no
Black film eroticism, or 5 Great Queer Ladies
Waltzing to videotaped pomo.
Just ask France—they kicked the Puritans out—or
Was it England? No matter, anxiety for woman, her
Insatiable desires, is an ongoing matinee, neo-whore
The star attraction.
Christmas Card for the Dead
The card lies sealed, unopened on my desk,
reversed harbinger, Christmas herald of
my aunt and uncle’s passing this past
A Christmas card for the dead, hermeneutically
sealed, as they in tombs, no longer gasp for air.
The return address is Plymouth, Michigan, and
they permanently sojourn, kin to the Plymouth
voyagers who crossed an ocean to land on rock
and trade beads for land.
In the tradition of the cross that they embraced
there is an inherent foul irony like beads of
castor oil rolling from the tongue. They will not
know the return of the sun, its resurrection mated
more to the Indians’ belief than their own.
The card is light, white like yule snow, its
unread message a Sisyphus joke, boulder
rolled to nowhere, memento to hang temporarily
like a Christmas ornament in the long days of
a silent sun.
Communion of the Dead
The world is November white this morning.
On top of Jellico Mountain driving a F-150
like a steel arrow, no other cars on the interstate.
It is as though the land birthed this daybreak,
wrung from the womb as in the beginning;
mountains to either side jut upward like the
back plates of buried stegosaurus, the air ice
blue, trees black, bitter naked skeletons.
A Peary artic world, unreal, as though some
mad god severed the veil between the actual,
spit out a sour conjuration calling forth all
the ghosts of the earth to cry for relief.
The ear can almost hear them stirring, there
in the ground, brittle bones a telegraph to
the few that receive the thin message tapped
out in the Morse code of the dead.
All these voices crying out from cemetery world.
Tongues before the white man, drumbeats from
buried rock, bones lying with fossils, cymbals
measuring the beat of stilled hearts, flutes played
by vanished lungs—dripping water a metronome
keeping time with smoke signals puffed up like
fogs breathed into bottles. They would phone
the living, for only in memory is vitality injected
into the lost. Here the loam womb pretends for a time
that gestation is imminent—only for the momentbefore rubber treads mark out the tracks.
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. This fall he had poems published in The New Plains Review, New Liberties Review, Fiction Week Literary Review, and is represented as the featured poet with 12 poems in the December issue of Poetry Repairs. His work has appeared in publications such as The Phoenix, Bitter Creek Review, Impressions, Kookamonga Square, Deep Waters, Jacket Magazine, The New Plains Review, New Liberties Review and Poetry Repairs.