you are in the diode archives spring 2010




You sit on the porch swirling
your wine. Red. Tomorrow, there’ll be an ache
in each temple and the pillow will row
the scent of a French vineyard further
from your tongue, your night-breath
branched through the batting’s
cotton. Not now, though. Not now,
even though the universe is moving
away at too many goddamn miles
per second to count. Lately, you’ve counted
August cicadas dried to the sides of cars,
mailboxes. You found one stilled
in the middle of the sidewalk,
pinched its dry thighs but the shell
wasn’t empty and so rang like a house
broken into. Lately, you’ve set off alarms
without even trying. Lately, you step
from the summer porch as if
toward something you’d steal.


Lullaby for the Knives

There was the man whose schizoid mother
once stood over his childhood
bed holding a bread knife. Since then,
in his nightmares, he’s paralyzed,
stares as the blades of his ceiling
fan swing backward, turn
into knives. There was the therapy
he’d read about, which aimed to revise
recurrent nightmares. Before bed
the man would repeat the same scenario—
he’d imagine all the fan blades breaking
into vines. Each one benign, blunted
with honeysuckle, with wisteria. A whirring
that drops—in his soft, green
sleep—only a petal, kiss of a leaf—lets him
keep all of his fingers. What more
could a man ask for? When he wakes
he winds his bedroom in a cushion
of climbing ferns, spider
plants. He places a potted white orchid
on his bedside table like a face
with eyes that bob on stalks. He whispers
goodnight, and it rocks.



You won’t accept sweat
as currency—won’t exchange
the salt on my skin

for a single penny. No passage. The glass
on my bedside table blurs
its hem. You’ve transplanted

my heart with a rabbit’s, scavenged
my tongue for its furred pelt. You’ve hung it
from my closet’s hook by my

belts and scarves. Are you now
at the thermostat with your wicked
flick of a thumb, once again

adjusting the temperature?
My only motion
sips water, reaches for socks. I switch

off the lamp the mirror the book
and stare at the bulb’s
lucent coil. I heat a blue

ceramic dish of lavender oil
to induce sleep. Its scent winds up
the rungs of my window’s blinds. You say,

Climb them. But you lie,
say I can return. As I step up, the red
in my hair burns, blows out. The metal

blinds bow, like a singing saw,
with all the nocturnal
homesick timbres of a voice.


Dreaming of the Castrato

What’s missing—
not my rhubarb’s skeletal jade,
not that weird

corrosion in a blue bowl
where strawberries jimmy

their black edges
back into water. This summer I’m sick

of the squash blossoms’ slow machismo. So when
a Byzantine choir rises suddenly
from the garden

on the gust of voice, I turn and they drop
like yellow crabapples

to just one song:
a man-child’s
cool soprano. He’s long-limbed

and smooth by my cedar fence, the fence
hemmed in eyelets and a grackle’s
stray gaze.
He’s thin as if something

has sunken and left
only his larynx’s pure treble

Sing me something,

I say, that will make the whole
garden flare. When his lips open

I stare, trace the skin around his blond mouth’s
downy vibrations. It’s like that

moment my wet finger circles
the cut

crystal lip of a wine glass with a touch
that sets

all the ghosts singing.  


Anna Journey is the author of the collection If Birds Gather Your Hair for Nesting (University of Georgia Press, 2009), selected by Thomas Lux for the National Poetry Series. Her poems are published in a number of journals, including American Poetry Review, FIELD, Indiana Review, and Kenyon Review, and her essays appear in Blackbird, Notes on Contemporary Literature, and Parnassus.