you are in the diode archives v5n1



The Wayback Machine

We are immortal now, the swift brushed watercolors,
the poems spoken line by line in the mind
on a morning run, scanned and pasted into blogs—
for now the eyes of the search engines have caught us
in their sights in their slow crawl, and month
by archived month of work we are swallowed up,
and day by day, swallowed again in the snapshot
that archives this day on the Internet and stores it away
in the Memory of Everything—we are digits
and bits, shadows and light, a million colors, broken
fragments of words and gesture that in some chance future
you, viewer, will call up, your heart and eye the place
where we briefly reassemble, offer what we can of time.


The Train Station

              —for Peter Balkwill’s Theatre Workshop

The lights come up (we must imagine this)
on a tableau far back from us—travelers bent
to the task of lifting a suitcase,
shouldering a backpack.

And then they advance
with deliberate step,
one opening a red umbrella,
one cradling a package like a baby,

and in their faces, every thought—
we see the green shores left,
a new love to be met,
a transformed self, an old life lost.

Midway they pause, uncertain,
look toward the face of the stranger beside them
as if to find an answer there,
then look back at the track.

Now the whistle signals the train
that pulls up as their faces turn
to watch the cars roll past—
and in that instant some change their minds,

turn back to home,
an old love, perhaps,
baggage left for someone else,
looking back just once.

And the train we watch—this is the train
that arrives, not departs,
red umbrella
furled on the platform beside its tracks.


On Reading Gregory Orr

                            From such heaviness
                            what could rise? — G. Orr

In the library’s winged-back chair
I have allowed the poems
to fall from my hand
and my eyes to close
and my head to rest
on one winged shoulder.

I have let go his words
that roll away the boulder of years
to show how his child’s hands
held his empty gun and fired,
leaving his brother dead beside the deer.

I have leaned into the rough wool
of sleep to ease such grief,
and startled awake
to the sound of my own weeping.


Old Clothes

Reality TV has brought the cleaning of closets
into my insomniac view, reminding me
of all the down jackets, t-shirts, wool dresses,
boots for back-country skiing, galoshes,
dance skirts, jeans, boas, vests, fedoras,
and the pom-pom hat I knitted for my mom
in fifth grade and she saved that still reside
in mine, and at 4 a.m. in another country
I’m seized, at last, by the vision of bagging
every piece I no longer need, carrying the lot
to Goodwill—though the next program
explains that I’ll need supervision and a budget
of at least $5000 to replace what I’ve tossed,
some of it irreplaceable.


Walking Home

I see, in the cars rushing by,
           people tuning their radios,
                      brushing their teeth,

talking on cell phones,
           writing their shopping lists,
                      honking their horns—

and here I am
           putting one foot
                      in front of the other

in a slow
           meandering return
                      from part-time work,

tuning in
           the white-throated sparrow,
                      craning my neck

to find the red
           of the cardinal,
                      the red of wild strawberries,

scribbling words, recording,
           high over the marsh,
                      the cry of some sea-haunted bird.

Is it enough, 
           to step out
                      into the world that’s here?  


Robin Chapman’s newest book, The Eelgrass Meadow, will be published by Tebot Bach later this year. She is recipient of the 2010 Helen Howe Poetry Prize from Appalachia. Her poems have appeared recently in Alaska Quarterly Review, Bosphorous Art Project Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, and Qarrtsiluni.