August 1999

Alice Jones

Alice Jones   This marks an author's first appearance in an online magazineAlice Jones's books include The Knot, winner of the Beatrice Hawley Award from Alice James Books, and Anatomy, a letterpress chapbook from Bullnettle Press of San Francisco. Her poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Poetry, The Denver Quarterly and Chelsea. She is the recipient of an NEA fellowship in poetry.
Nightfall    Click to hear in real audio

With a plunk, like the old drunken poet
falling into a stream, we're suddenly drenched
with darkness. No one expected a plunge,
the free fall into some other element.
It takes a while to find balance. Out
on the porch, we lie on deck chairs,

weary passengers to somewhere else.
Mt. Tam bundles down under flannel blankets,
like us, as Venus appears in a cat's cradle
of phone wires. Upland Berkeley—
street light hums, jasmine and verbena,
cars struggling through their gears up Marin.

I try to describe those tiny
rainbow shells that bury themselves
in Florida sand. You tell about
a cove in Hawaii, bright fish,
then suddenly a crowd of dolphins
surrounds you. Being among them.

Something unimagined happens, some leap
of the heart dropping its old scales,
tired fish, that wasn't expecting
a voyage, just wanted to be tucked in
to its berth, wanted a bedtime story,
wanted one light left on.



Paperweight    Click to hear in real audio

Bee keeper
    the clovered hum
    purple thistle radiating pin-sphere

fog gone off the morning
    what will you make
    of a day's rest

treasuring the involuted minutes
    how they're packed, invisible suitcases,
    carrying your first language, my old dolls,
    a photo of each cat except the last one

stories lined by the ribs
    of a broken umbrella
    bird cage without its green parakeet

lined like the lacquered box's compartments
    containing thread, ivory frog,
    jade circle, thimble, carved yak-bone,

look—a royal wedding of blue and red
    drop-shaped, folding out beneath
    the furry body, palps flared, legs starting
    to fold in for the landing, tongue unfurled

gelled under the lucite curve
    hold each second still
    pretend to own it
    be at home with what never happens

the meal deferred, pollen
    not collected or dispersed
    perversely frozen, no breeding

the imagined inconsummate
    held like the words
    that never arrive, nectar
    from the future's glossy dome.



Alice Jones: Poetry
Copyright 1999 The Cortland Review Issue EightThe Cortland Review