Kate Colby


From The Return of the Native

    [Eustacia Dresses Herself
    on a Black Morning]

On top of the wold
over fires expiring
in quavering embers,
commemorative cinders,
snuffed out by their own
attendant gently

Jack-jagged digits finger
in from the periphery
of ponds, panes, the eye
                             needles, crackling
                             Sterno, expectant
                             chafing dishes; we

            gather together
            in hot spots, cold
            places get even
            colder, we are
            suction countering
            suction, the sound of
            the finger sliding
            between chords
            the sound
            of falling

            The self-same flakes
            make sounds of scissors
            snapping at random
            but always the same

            rap at the knocker        muffled

mumming                     ringing ringing
                                    the sixth caller
                                    will not hang up

            I demand my consolation prize!

                                    my pocket full
                                    of proverbial rye

                                    for the birds
                                    some dumb joke
                                    I don't even get
                                    but I’ll take it
                                    so long as it
                                    once meant

                                    for a song
                                    a skeleton

             This microphone makes waves

                  (tap. tap. can you
                  hear me now?)

            Tracks played backwards
            and what you hear there.

                  [Bridge Freezes
                   Before Road]

Put your face right up next to
the globe, see unwound tape
that snakes along the sidewalk;
the frangible grass is glittering
with forever silent sonic code

contaminants you'd rather
keep out of your sources

[Beginning No Salt Zone]

the walls wind up
from the reservoir
to the road, continue on
the other side.
A jack-knifed trailer.
Everybody's died.

So, turn it over and
shake, now everybody
rehash '78

it seems this rag is meant
for drier eyes than mine.

The Nth annual follies unfold
with ribbons a-flutter, another
dragon slain, princess saved.

Pete's pulled the stopper
shoved the threat down the drain.

Poor Tikki Tikki Tembo
is drowning in the well

Wee Willie Winkie
his approximated
dressing gown

Jack Sprat's dead wife
leaves the world
only half-digestible.

And who's the lass behind the mask?               

Hi, it's just
me, my own

my Miss Vye, we
respectively see
redskins, reddlemen,
same difference,
same rosy x-ray vision; look,

                  locking the wolf away
                  locking yourself away

                         either way, what the hay

    you're stuck like a gnat
    to the paint on the Don't-

    a cardboard coffee tray
    and a dozen Munchkins

    what you see
    depends on the speed
    of your wipers.

They're turning on one
another in the chase
with a great defensive
shedding of antlers

indifferent to the poachers
who are off at the White Hart,
anyway, putting away

approximated food
you can eat forever:
chicken fingers, curly fries.

In the end, everybody dies,
everybody’s resurrected
year over year—         

while I'm down here
at the bottom of
the well, watching
the bucket bang back
up without me.

Echoing sound of
Soupy: come 'n'

git it, get up, shut up and eat
your dinner, young lady—

break bread, jam
hand down throat
and reexamine
the willfully indigestible.

We gather together
on a carpet of historic
patterns, a Greek key,
half doubling back
on itself. Swastika
and hound's-tooth.

I'll edge up next to the hearth,
climb right inside the screen
and look back out at you

with what through my
diamond-shaped panes
is written on the wind:
nostalgie de la boue            ethereal plastic sack

                                    thank you
                                                  thank you
                                                                thank you

You will eat what I put in front of you.

In new-fallen snow
the objects below,
headstones like teeth
making it digestible.

I think I know
my own reflection,
watch my head
fill up with snow.

Squinting through freezing wind-
shield, this squeaky container
with this noxious blue
fluid, I am
quietly taking
over the world.