Nebraska Center for Writers

BOXCARS POETICA
by Maureen Kingston

A crane shot
of the plains

wide-angle.

Iím the crane.

How many
frames
per second?

Iíve lost count

of the colored
slides

rolling by

their mounds
backlit

Wyoming
coal

thrusting
eastbound.

Iím the dawn
too

lighting the
Wind River

cutthroat
orange

dredged
in fugitive dust

deep-fried
in subtraction.

Never the
money shot

or the movieís
star

just the one
dissolving

at the end
of each day

trying to survive

the trend of
cinéma vérité.

Reprinted with permission
from The Meadowland Review, Winter 2012
Copyright © 2012
by Maureen Kingston




SPRING FORWARD
by Maureen Kingston


When the light
changes
I see them,
bug tattoos
in the porch globe, fallen bodies
bulb-dried
to frosted glass —

silenced commas
and curled compass
needles, lost bearings
without sentience
or latitude.

Did they swarm off stage?
Did their wings
spit flamenco flames?
Or was suffocation
the invisible
coup de grace?

Sometimes
all the crystal ball
reveals
are burnt shadows
on cave walls.

Reprinted with permission
from The Meadowland Review, Winter 2012
Copyright © 2012
by Maureen Kingston




WYOMING AUBADE
by Maureen Kingston

A few degrees
here or there
in the mattress
frypan,
the difference
between
scrambled
and over easy.

The night before,
the crack
of pool balls
breaking,
sweet-water pearls
and whiskey
spilling across
the western sky,
the fluid current
igniting, climbing
the fire escape
to extinction.

After the storm
the branch
hisses in the
morning dew,
the brook trout
lies motionless,
its belly slit,
bisected by
the sunís spin-
casted rays.

Reprinted with permission
from Muddy River Poetry Review, Spring 2011
Copyright © 2011
by Maureen Kingston




ARMCHAIR SUICIDE
by Maureen Kingston


Always, when March tangoed with April, when ice wrestled rain, I assisted in killing winter so spring could be. The five blocks between home and school my battlefield. The morning ice on the puddle faces, the glazed footprints from the night before, lost their thin lives to my boot heels. Crack. Smash. You giggled and screamed, perched on high, as slush geysered up my pant legs.

Four years older than you. My job to protect your Sunday dress from Maís wild preserves: spearing the paraffin shield with a barbecue fork, taking the raspberry hit.

Too much Jack Danielís the night before your wedding. Our talk turned morose, to if worse ever came to worst. I dodged at first, pointing to my glass, quoted Ishmael: ďThis is my substitute for pistol and ball.Ē But you wouldnít let go. Pills, you said. Spineless girl, I said, kicking your folded legs.

Our paths so different. You following the rules, me waving my quixotic sword. But Iím the colossal fraud. A coward when you need me most. Your small life now at the mercy of a morphine pump. Living in six-minute intervals. Please? you ask. And I canít.

Reprinted with permission
from Lily: A Monthly Online Literary Review, December 2011
Copyright © 2011
by Maureen Kingston




CELESTE FIGS
by Maureen Kingston

Their violet brown
her-shapes
donít travel well
unless preserved
in Newtonís
chest of drawers.

Their red-rich
ovaries
a creek bed
of chaste seeds,
heavenly sweet,
the girl-next-door
tendering
backyard caviar.

But like all such
Vestal beauties,
a little frightening,
too, witches best
put to the stake;
Christmas stars
flaming in freefall,
landing on our
plates, hissing,
salvation tarred
in figgy pudding.

Reprinted with permission
from The Centrifugal Eye, Summer-Fall 2011
Copyright © 2011
by Maureen Kingston




RACIAL PROFILING
by Maureen Kingston


It happens once a month or so, his cuff seizing mine.
Not always the same boy, but always a boy; not always
the same-sized hand, but always a brown one. Like mine.

This thief of palms is usually four or five years old, never
more than three feet tall; and so enthralled by the drama
of the big box store heíll follow alongside me for aisles,

his head oscillating, his gaze mulling horizons
of pickle jars, congeries of baby cupcakes, the curious
columns of cloven feet on ice. And I donít want to spoil

his wonder or scare him into running away. That
happened the first time. Sweet Jesus, the siren screams,
the crowd twitching, reaching for its judgment guns.

I take a gentler approach now; bend my head to his ear,
whisper, Está bien, mijo, in my phrasebook Spanish.
Sometimes I must whisper it twice before his fawn eyes

will meet mine; before the upside down question
mark of his drooling mouth discovers my face
does not match the tender brown hand of his mamí<.i>.

Reprinted with permission
from Poetry Quarterly, Summer 2011
Copyright © 2011
by Maureen Kingston




TAILSPIN
by Maureen Kingston

That time
in marriage

after carnal
electrification

but before
the dusty gulch.

Middle Time.

You flick
a half-dollar
onto the bar top

put a little
English on it
make a wager.

A clear outcome
is seconds away.

Only itís not
a half-dollar

spinning
in the neon.

Itís your
wedding ring.

And your
head decides

right then
and there

to chase the tail
out the door

before the ring
has a chance
to land.

Reprinted with permission
from Plains Song Review , XI 2009
Copyright © 2009
by Maureen Kingston




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