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Dreams of the Living Poetry by

Lisa M. Cole

Copyright © 2015 Lisa M. Cole Copyright © 2015 Cover Art by Breann Sodini, Lukas Hardes, and Jessica Truscott ( : ( (

ELJ Publications, LLC ~ New York All rights reserved. ISBN 13: 978-1-941617-43-4

For Adam


Sorrow opens… Dreams of the Living Different Islands


What I Never Told You

5 6

Aviary Requiem

7 8

The Atlas Sympathizing With Hades After Reading The Lady of Shalott Etymology What I Carry Talking With a Goddess Submerged

9 10 11 12 13 14 15

What was once solid and sure… Waiting for You After Your Autopsy Little Vixen, Little Star Dragonfly Healing Afterlife

19 20 21 22 24 25

Can’t come back to earth… Lunch Poem It’s Raining, and I’m Writing You this Letter This Is How Broken My Heart Is

29 30 31

Devil’s Advocate Parenthetical

32 33

Learning the Intricacies of Being Alone Kaleidoscope


Manicure Bloodshot Letter to the Invisible Man Dr. Eros Drunk The Language of Want

35 36 37 38 39 40 41

His white rib… A Man’s Country Fear/Love When Time Was a Red Bicycle Doppelgangers Wander Across the Continents The Truth Pulled From Her Mouth Thread Gold String Through Rusted Needles Night Visions In Daylight

45 46 47 48 49 50 51

A translucent fish… The Trouble With Desire My Illusion, My Adonis Lament of the Bird Anthropology Requiem II Surface Zero Prayer

55 56 57 58 59 60 61


Special thanks to the editors of the journals in which some of these poems originally appeared: “Dreams of the Living” (under the title “For Adam”), Slow Trains; “Aviary,” The Albion Review; “After Your Autopsy” (under the title “After My Lover’s Autopsy”) and “Manicure,” Nimble; “Learning the Intricacies of Being Alone,” Persona; “Little Vixen, Little Star,” “Letter to the Invisible Man,” and “It’s Raining…,” Sawback; “The Truth Pulled From Her Mouth,” Gloom Cupboard; “Bloodshot,” “Kaleidoscope,” “Lunch Poem,” “When Time Was a Red Bicycle,” and “My Illusion, My Adonis,” Alternative Reel; “Lament of the Bird,” Asphodel Madness; “Doppelgangers Wander Across the Continents,” The Arava Review.

Sorrow opens: The maw of a carnivore fierce and scrawny in its hunger.

Dreams of the Living This is how it is: I think of us making love all the time now. I think of your face, bright and white like the moon above me. I am stretched like a chord, like a wing, but only one now—half a wing. You are on another plane and I can’t fly. I wonder how many words it will take for me to reach you again. But is it really you I am trying to reach? Or is it the version of me that only you were able to decipher, the code—the Morse code— clicking in my brain, and my heart, my hands, my legs, my arms—when you would enter me. There we are again— making love. Didn’t we say that we were making love even when our bodies were not one—not a full, flying, soaring bird—sailing? I hear the rain—I think there is no better sound. Then I remember your voice resounding. All I hear, or feel, or see, or touch, is a wisp of memory. I cannot pin it down. I heard a poem once. The poet set two lovers on train tracks making love. And they could not hear the train coming straight for them. I think that is us: all of our time was collapsing under the weight of my breath as I tried to breathe for two. Because you are dead— on this timeless plane, where everything and nothing stays the same. My breath, my one wing—half a wing 3

was not enough to keep you. I borrowed you and you gave yourself freely during the borrowing— a book whose author did not finish writing you. This is how it is: I miss you. I try to speak to you when you enter my dreams. So, can you hear me when I call for you—a bird song, my one wing—half a wing—flapping? Now, I want to be deaf. Now, my voice is an ambulance. Now, I am a siren calling for you.


Different Islands Grief is its own language. It has no future tense. It is comprised only of subjunctive phrases: I wish you were still alive. If only you could come home to me. I am marooned on my own island. People who do not share my view of the shoreline offer only imperative expressions: Stop! Forget him. Move on. They speak in a language I do not understand. When I speak I do not use verbs because they suggest movement. And there is no movement on this island. I think maybe you will hear me if I speak in twisted tongues. I say, Te amo, Te amo. On this island only the swaying palms hear me.


What I Never Told You I forget most of my life. The birds, the women with guns, falling asleep in old airplanes, evenings on the Zen garden wall with a 6-pack and a pen. I marvel at my makeshift desires and the stunt doubles I hire to re-live my life. I see them falling onto the street their faces taut, their arms at their sides. I will be dangerous when I remember. But I look at the multitude of scars etched like inverted runes on my body and I’d like to know what they mean.


Aviary You are a bird. Never a mockingbird, you harnessed your own song to your side. It rose uninhibited from your throat, a demanding caw caw reverberating in the air. Birds will sing in high octaves, a cadence sometimes too lofty to hear. And yes, you defiantly hummed your own melody, unflinching. Birds are not loyal. And yes, you did not stay perched on my shoulder. You did not chirp chirp the poems you wrote in my ear anymore. Birds will not wave goodbye. And yes, you did not flip your wing in my direction. Birds will fly away slowly, on a half-turned jet wing, the swish of their feathers fading with the horizon. The reaction delayed, I took a moment to miss the prick of your bill on my lips. I looked up into the black sky, the stars like tiny bullet holes in my heart.


Requiem Gems look better against a woman’s body--so I am told. But my mother wore no gems. Instead, she donned beautiful scars, and so many pearls dipped in honey and gold. Stones framed her spine, and she wrapped her hands in silk and linen to protect her skin of rice paper. My mother, her Lysol cans and perfume bottles, her anxiety worsened by laundry rooms and gas burners. Her polka dot dress, her television dreams and tranquilizers. My mother, now buried in the darkened earth. She whispers her secrets to lilies and rainbow roses. Wounds—so many wounds made into songs.


The Atlas When Atlas stumbles, and shakes the world like a soda can the world spills and fizzes as people are given the gift of foresight. I knew my lover was gone before he left. My heart was a bell and it clanged with every stride he took, and with every shift in body, I sent out this secret proclamation: Iloveyou. Iloveyou. Iloveyou. Don’tleaveme. Don’tleaveme. My lover touched me lightly on my open shoulder the day the blue casket lowered into the ground. It shone like his eyes once did. When you went to Paris this summer, you said you saw my face reflected back at you: piano fingers, skin of ivory, hair the color of wood burning. You think I knew my lover in a past life, that we moved together like constellations. You say that time is not a linear thing. It bends like a wire around our hopes. Still, I know: doppelgangers wander across the continents. Ghostlovers come back to haunt us in our dreams. But we need more than a map to find our way towards them again.


Sympathizing With Hades She is the woman I have loved, heart of hurricane glass, her soft lines, white skin, voice like rain on a window in my ear. She is the one I love and long for, like a mortal longs for a cigarette. Her words seduce me. They run like lava from her volcano lips. She has pomegranate seeds stuck in her teeth and she picks them out with a toothpick. Her hair is long, golden, unkempt, unruly, sun stored in its roots. Yes, she holds me with fingers white and long, chrysanthemums, pansies, late blooming buds fall from her hair as I kiss her. She fights, closing her eyes and letting in no light.


Dreams of the Living  

Taste Before You Bite

Dreams of the Living  

Taste Before You Bite