Poems by Jane Rosenberg LaForge in Fevers of the Mind Press Presents the Poets of 2020

In the Deaf Man's House
after Ilya Kaminsky

Don't call it a republic,
a coalition of hard listeners,
lip observers, grazing
up against the shorn
naked nerve endings
that fire into darkness.
This is not a country but
a punishment, to be perceived
as if dust surrounding words
and thoughts, a need for
affection, for guidance,
for questions: who invented
television? The running of
the grunions? The practice of
affixing silent book to arms
and foreheads? We'll never know,
though our father was full of sky,
his speeches to the clouds,
the sounds he could remember
like sprockets of a movie projector
ticking off commandments:
What thou shall hear
and another thou shall translate,
and what the last a pair shall
understand to be within the scope
of permitted interpretations
within the half-heard lyrics
and dialogue: obey
the nonsense.

Oliver Plunkett, or the G Above High C

In the reliquary where the head
of the saint is secured in a prism,
the penitents kiss the surface,
then stand back to see their imprints
vanish, like covetous objects from
childhood, a mist populated by
dolls and matchbook cars, and
fabrics clutched in nightmares.
As adults they have come searching
for a glimpse of the true cross, a sliver
that might hover within the pantheon
of icons, a piece of death not in vain,
but with a purpose that withstands
decomposition. The tour guide
says this visage was rescued
from a pyre so worshipers might
partake in its vengeance, and each night,
at dinner, the penitents get theirs,
in the form of dressing down whatever
oppressed class they blame for
economic blight and political chaos.
But the Israelis: Oh, to see them and their country,
they say, because so much progress!
At the tour's end, they adjourn
to their homes, and consider how
only those like themselves might
reach the most arduous of notes
in devotion, as the saint did in his
passion, while sinners and protesters
cannot even begin to decipher
the voices of their idols
or the words from the tablets.

Sources and Illness

A plague makes splinters
of all bodies, recidivists
as well as innocents; their
mechanics revealed as if
a doll's, the one my father
promise he'd purchase
if I ate my spinach. A door
in her back revealed wheels
upon wheels, the complications
of turning against the status
quo ante, the unforgivable
act of indecisiveness.
My father said, "Eat your
spinach or your wheels won't
turn," because back then
there was always a chance
your wheels would seize
and reverse, skid until threads
were worn drown to stone
and sparks would appear where
there once was traction.
"There are dolls on fire
in China right this instant, "
my mother would scream,
for she had lived through
the same economic anxiety.

My father's property stretched
as far as I needed to see,
above the neighbor's swimming
pools, the road to school,
the dawn that breached
through mountains,
making a play for where
the moon had been. Worlds
were random in assigning
their wreckage in those days,
as the wheels in children
supposedly ran on all the same
wavelengths: glass in the soles
of feet, pox on the skins,
blisters and calluses on
palms and fingertips
from the rings on the playground
or holding the pencils
too tightly during the testing.

My pet tortoise died
from eating lettuce on
the patch of grass where
my father wished he was
growing lemons. We thought
age and inheritance commanded
the epidemics that raced
around the cul-de-sac, but
it was the roots and stems that
hosted pathogens. Living
things that were not sentinent
and yet they attached
themselves to our fears
and breaths as if they were
suckling infants, possessed
of a similar restiveness.
If we had known it was these
silent materials that threatened,
perhaps we would have
given them a voice, animation
or some other way clear
from the specter of breakage;
a method of beginning
again absent the wounds
we thought made us immune
and protected us.

Bio from 2020:
Jane Rosenberg LaForge is the author of a forthcoming poetry collection, 'Medusa's Daughter', from Animal Heart Press; and the forthcoming novel, 'Sisterhood of the Infamous', from New Meridian Arts Press. Her poetry has appeared in the forthcoming in the Loch Raven Review; the Broken Spine; Thorn Literary magazine; and 8Poems. She reads poetry for COUNTERCLOCK literary magazine and reviews books for American Book Review.

By davidlonan1

David writes poetry, short stories, and writings that'll make you think or laugh, provoking you to examine images in your mind. To submit poetry, photography, art, please send to feversofthemind@gmail.com. Twitter: @davidLOnan1 + @feversof Facebook: DavidLONan1

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