LAUREL LEAVES POETRY


Monthly Poetry Magazine



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POET AND POEMS OF THE MONTH

TERESINKA PEREIRA




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IF JEFFREY SMART PAINTED JAMES JOYCE

 

It would have been in Rathgar, outside a steel mill.

The building seated in its shadow, top row of windows
now shattered glass – a boy facing east, hurling balls of coal.
There was an ice climber’s cord hanging from his outpost,
knotted with caster wheels. It looked like a rope ladder.

Smart used a disegno, measured every angle, each inch
of scaffolding another space for a softer bit of street yellow.

The brick orange was added for Joyce’s cheekbones.

I saw Keats returning from the rose garden with a sonnet.
The garden belonged to an old miner, its bushes brittle and dry.
It looked strange, a small cottage surrounded by a picket fence,
and beside it, a landfill that ran a mile into Naul Hills.

Yet free of it. Keats had fallen asleep, the way Severn sketched him.
Fanny Brawne in relief, standing a few yards from him.
Near another window, a barn swallow eating from her hand.

The painting looked like a pastoral. Idyllic. Distant.
Crepe roses behind Joyce. Stadium lights. The freeway of no cars.

Living in the city is deafening. London teaches you
to ignore the immediate moment, the overturned crate in the alley.
Bags of beans split open. Sprawling lentils. Lima beans, pinto beans.

Your eyes turn lazy, the stoplight to tell you when to stall or go.

The bin to throw your brown bag into. London forcing you
to locate particularity – things, relevance, connection, longing as love.
Something to be done. The route to the library where you’ll sit
in the far right corner, on the big chair riveted to the ground.

It was closing time at the mill, black mask of figures in contrapposto.

The disegno looked like an origami pattern for a rose,
its mosaic tiling of mountain folds, ridge folds and valley folds.

The boy took it in his hand, placed the coal neatly within it.
Wrapping it in, he handed it to Smart and asked for a drawing.

 

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