Monday Jul 22

PelegrinAlison Alison Pelegrin is the author of three poetry collections, most recently Hurricane Party (2011) and Big Muddy River of Stars (2007), both with the University of Akron Press. She is the recipient of a Louisiana Division of the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship and, in 2007, a creative writing fellowship from The National Endowment for the Arts. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry, The Southern Review, and West Branch. She is presently a member of the English Department at Southeastern Louisiana University and may be found on the web here.


Full Sturgeon Moon
—after Basho

Guitar Hero neighbor, how does he live?
I wonder if he looked outside last night
and noticed me hot-footing on asphalt,
in pajamas, hunting down a better view
of the green corn moon, myriad names
for its beauty, each facet of which for me
was obscured by clouds. August moon may have escaped,
but with Neighbor I have the upper hand,
having toured his house while it was being built,
kicking up echoes in the bonus room
where he practices guitar. It occurs to me
that I am the opposite of a traveling poet.
Some nights I fall asleep watching tv--
can he see me through the transom windows?
Standing in the driveway safe from snakes
I am missing out on noteworthy things,
such as tiny skulls minus half their teeth.
It is someone’s job to spray poison
in ditches where mosquitoes breed,
and someone else’s to mow down sloppily
elephant ears and hyacinth that offer shelter.
Neighbor, guitar hero, it is not only I
who listens, but also geckos with peppered backs
rippling down the front door’s leaded glass. Lotus moon
could be another name for this milk-faced bulb
that hides the lavender shadow of its heart.

Footnote to My Chronicle of Amazement

Amazement, my first rebellious act,
before beer or boys. I would sneak out
to the canal, street lights
but no houses yet on the other side.
Knowing the danger of snakes,
I tiptoed beneath the scorn of owls
and through the willow tree’s
beaded curtain, walked a plank
of corrugated pipe to marvel
at alligator gar gliding single file
through sludge. Untouchable,
untroubled by my brother’s arrows
and thrown rocks, they seemed
stepping stones to another world.
I never crossed their bridge.
I renounced such primitive joys
and instead spent summers
twirling batons. Baptized
by smoke bombs and bonfire ash,
my heart grew a shell which remained,
until recently, uncracked,
much to my amazement.

Winter to Winter

Naysayer with whirlpool mouths, sea shaker, lord of torn spider webs
in mist, make me like a sparrow with colors muted by the dust bath,
briefly warm, winging from winter to winter through mudslide houses
churning in the flood. Spare me your tempest touch. Let me catch my breath
on a rooftop raft. Listen to my whispers. Lighten my load
that I might sing a split tongue song. Hold me in your hand.
Drop me, that I might mistake for flight the plunge from ember to ash.