La Fenêtre Ouverte
Walls or orange and gold flame wherever I turn. Is it Monday or hell?
No, it’s Saturday. The weekend’s too quiet with those ravens
perched above eye level, below my consciousness. Surrounding trees
do their best to appear nonchalant and evergreen, though their bark
is no calmer than the fire’s bite. Nor are they any more reassuring
than the heat sear stretching like elastic or Saran Wrap across my face,
sealing in panic along with the essential juices, but that’s only
if you want a baked potato for a soulmate. White ceramic,
too fragile for a tombstone, is still handy at the dinner table.
I ride my dad’s long-deceased red swayback across a field,
nowhere near settled in the saddle and wondering when, not whether
the horse will bolt back toward him, though horses by nature
will gallop into a burning barn. The sky’s a falling, carbonized leaf,
surrounded by clouds which could pass as steam and smoke combined,
suggesting firemen are attempting to extinguish my anxiety— which
of course is a lie. Coffee’s putting the fire out just fine. The firemen
are a formality which never appear where pine and fir hug shadows,
bathing this meadow in charcoal flannel, which could pass
for cogitation were the cigarettes I never smoke so close at hand.
The day’s due for a scrub with dish soap, like any other used ashtray.
La Durée Poignardée
I sleep in a chair like the seat on the train I ride to visit you
and watch a locomotive half-emerge from inside a fireplace.
The mantel clock keeps ticking as if this is right on schedule,
just as trains keep a schedule and lives attempt to imitate it,
trying to maintain steam in whatever keeps them running--
if enough of a romantic to have some faith in in steam trains,
not fatalistic enough to think consuming fossil fuels is death,
since we die continually, as a mantel clock gently reminds--
gently in volume, at least, since a mechanism can be adamant
and think, when we sleep, we are practicing what it preaches,
time a true believer in what it proselytizes by sheer existence.
But we have a locomotive moving through a brick fireplace.
So do walls have gears and springs or clocks plaster and lath?
The mirror hanging behind the mantel clock sees none of this.
The fact a mirror sees is irrelevant as it trumpets into a room--
both a play on words and the literal pachyderm in its vicinity,
making perfect nonsense and thick-skinned in its utter sense,
keeping a schedule like the locomotive it claims to never see.
But that’s plausible deniability pulling into a room on schedule--
plausible deniability of time to oil the gearboxes of our trains--
a mantel clock’s tick between our ears, a tick inside our chests.
A ticking I would prefer underneath as I try to sleep on a train--
the train rolling toward you, inexorable and I hope on schedule.
A Flummoxed Present That Seeps into the Past
a cadralor in five Magrittes—title after John Ashbery
1 Le mois de vendanges
Wall to wall me stands outside.
Do the faces have the same
pain or wonder in the eyes?
Or is it condemnation?
All the black suits and bowlers
and cumulus wallpaper
masquerading as fresh air--
my suffocating blue room.
What came first, the chicken or
the blame? Egg on a table
or dove flapping on knife’s edge,
fluttering on an easel?
for fear of smearing oil paint,
leaving a mess of feathers,
blood smears, an abandoned head.
3 L’hombre monumentale (La demon de la perversite)
It’s as good as Poe’s raven--
robin’s-egg blue nevermore.
Poised to roll along bluegrass,
round and large as a planet.
It’s good as God’s bowling ball,
ready for a perfect strike.
House walls below white as pins.
Clouds grimy as used ashtrays.
4 La belle captive
Morning is pale blue velvet.
Long grass rustles. The dirt road
turns at an oak toward the sea
or ocean blue horizon.
Hooves clop. Wheels on a cart grind.
Birds chirp, intermittent.
Horsecart stops at a house,
sequestered onto canvas.
5 Rideaux, boule et personages
Sandwiched between curtains
and a towering ball of blood,
a haze of hemoglobin
wafts like a marine layer.
Even coffee tastes copper
while a jet roars overhead,
seeking whom it may devour,
spectators roaring their joy.
Jonathan Yungkans is a Los Angeles-based writer and photographer whose work has appeared in MacQueen's Quinterly, Panoply, Synkroniciti and a number of other publications. His second poetry chapbook, Beneath a Glazed Shimmer, won the 2019 Clockwise Chapbook Competition and was published by Tebor Bach in 2021.
The Ekphrastic Review
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