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The Lesson of Furniture Chad Redden

The Red Ceilings Press

MMXI [rcp 33]

The Lesson of Furniture Chad Redden

To B

The Blinds Both of us come from childhoods of closed windows and drawn blinds because neither of us wants sunlight in the rooms of our apartment maybe it is just depression for me it was respect for my mother’s windows let people into your house to look inside the unspoken household rule was that windows were not for looking out unless my mother heard voices passing nearby outside and only then she would tip a slat of the blinds slightly to investigate our neighborhood was near the middle school she sat in the living room on the couch listening to children as they slipped by her sight through the blinds suspicious of every child she feared vandalism by children either to the yard or to herself I imagine you grew up with windows that never allowed anything interesting you never speak of your childhood came to me in a dream last night and why we slouch on our furniture in dim lit rooms naked with dry skin and timid genitals

After Discovering We Were Chewable We slept with the lights on to avoid the darkness outside our windows the sound of teeth chewing like they are summer crickets now when we wake we check inside our socks to make sure an intestine of teeth isn’t spiraling down to the reinforced toe waiting to greet our feet when we eat we open our cabinets with flashlights ready to make sure a set of teeth isn’t hidden behind the cinnamon or the peanut butter or canned peas a set of teeth so sharp and ready to spring they can break through faces and bodies opening up the darkness inside of us more teeth are already chewing our organs

Let Forth Your Shuttlecocks on High Our cloudmeal is a righteous cloudmeal it maketh me to lie down on green carpet belly full of whispers how we realize those little lies we tell are in the finger nail bed those little calcium deposits the little lies we tell jars to open and let out the death rattle collection of presidential aides from the century before the last century people didn’t mind sharing a hole in the ground the ground was for sharing a body is the cloud and the blood is the rain take it and be merry and be one with our cloudmeal

Estrangement If you set cups of hot water on the steps of staircases pay attention to how the steam vapors echo upward to disturb the membrane of air above ghosts are born from this newborn spirits know only one direction and float up the staircases stumble into bedrooms to rest on window sills if it is late evening settle on the chests of sleeping children their weight pushes air from lungs our breath comes from ghosts in collision with us older spirits are able to move in many directions the staircase feels about this how you ignore their cries for attention creaking at you to place something other than your feet upon them maybe a hand maybe lips something more than cups of hot water for the morning when ghosts surround you fogging your eyes at the stairs you find a chasm below bare mousetraps expired coupons shards of a broken cup a puddle of water on the unfinished floorboards below and you’re stuck on the second story without a staircase to climb down to close the front door left wide open the ghosts in your house escaping while you run out of breath

Cabinets A cabinet is awarded to each of us at birth and placed where we need them mine within my chest the skin opened then sealed with common household appliances yours above our bed streetlight from the window shining on my scars for you to finger inspired you took down your cabinet with my help we made it your new belly began to favor pants with elastic waistbands I worried when you spoke of the connection you had to what was inside it began moving you pulled my head down to listen to hums and water rose and I tapped my cabinet had the perfect name for a child but we needed a knife

Do You Still Have Your Acorn? Next to each other with acorns on our chests we pretended we were dead in shallow graves an orange quilt you inherited from some aunt was our layer of soil an acorn sat still between your breast but my acorn wobbled even with the orange quilt over our faces and you said I would make lousy fertilizer some book gave us the idea to be buried with an acorn on our chests to spring trees from our bodies what impossible dreams we had the county laws wouldn’t allow it even if we owned the land we once dreamt of owning back when we dreamt together in that bed with the lime green headboard we talked about our trees how they would twine branches like we twined our legs and how we would open up knot holes for chipmunks and how owls would visit us during the night and how we as trees would learn to sway and how many children we would make and how one day we with all of our children could be one of those real forests where the animals are so far away from humans they could feel comfortable and start talking again you said

Cold-Cuts Last year’s rain was a year ago and sand wedges between organs on the observation table the smell of someone touched by books touching college-ruled lined paper wears an orange jacket rests with the quiet of chairs and electricity winks through fluorescent bulbs as the doctor sneezes loose threads of the dog-suit stuck to pant legs with tight creases everything comes down to money and jellybeans don’t solve the economics of smoldering serenades until sundown keep hardened organs will poke through the grocery sack and make for an awkward appearance like why you don’t drop babies if the babies are expired shears on the tank of the toilet and zipper teeth of a dog suit circle the drain peeling out like lettuce placed on ice

But We Have So Much Sky to Work With Our mattress is a rocky foundation and why we wake feeling as if we haven’t wanted an ocean view as a compromise a portrait of the great cacti hung on your side of the bed on the cold air at night hot air in the day and you are unhappy I am asking too much perhaps I am the night so clear and silent you suppose that yes it might be worth it in a few weeks we will move the shoreline before the water snatches our bed from beneath us before we wake with water in our mouths paddling as we do now pulling at driftwood blankets to cover our skin

Only Days that End With Y Most mornings are defined by songs played at a volume that would grind most winds to a halt those petty things disguised as plaster walls full of dart holes no matter how much plaster is injected into them they crumble and maps can’t be kept in this apartment anymore or crumbled lists or sidereal movements and the sum effect of ocean currents on new songs leave for work drive an hour inhale nicotine then shower and shower and shower and shower

Flat Head Syndrome Had our parents held us instead of left us on our backs looking up at skylights from the ceiling which didn’t develop in our developing eyes saw grey before us with the breaking lights from outside at the time we didn’t know light was sunlight bathed us because our parents thought we looked too like bananas and yellow with jaundice skin set out like plants to grow pale we seem now as adults under florescent lights of the church basement our group sits in the only place that no one notices the flatness of the back of our heads are flat from early days of all back and no stomach while our mothers worried about yellow

Wandering Star I worried the village magicians could not pull you from the test tube and into life again you would stay as gold sparks the five I caught after your wicked ex-stepbrother disintegrated you I worried that I would never hear you sing again missing your songs that helped me sleep compared me to a wandering star that dragged its lips along the ground uprooted trees left lake beds dry forgot keys in ignitions gave cats flea dips and other things you thought I thought romantic

As Hawaiian Air flight 47 Attempts a Water Landing All these years later we are still making up snow days with telephones dialed to numbers long since extinct the ghosts of dinosaurs still crowd among us in the supermarket along the where the cheese aisle crosses the detergent aisle of the plane biscuit crumbs rest on the carpet dropped by the passenger beside me as I look out the window for that short glimpse of the volcano rim trimmed with a road so a person can drive to the top and look inside and see nothing like the bubbling hot red lava they used to show in the mystery cartoons from our youth back when we wore puffy coats and pretended we were bubbles bumping off of each other on top of a snow drift at the bus stop then falling down on one another in the street and then get up when our barely robed mothers notice our school’s name scroll across the news ticker and yell for us to come inside

On the Banks of the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone Before earthquakes ants grow wings their antennas’ jointed needles twitch and stitch shared signals to be understood like dying candles or postcards folded into airplanes and dropped at night from motel balconies a pale arm slipping between curtain panels in dark windows your heart in waltz my finger a metronome flicks away ants that did not sense the tremors in your thighs didn’t sprout wings your back arched up then down in layers with the friction of spasms flowing up through your shoulders down your lean muscles naked in sunlight your fingers twitch us like we’re weeds buried in tall grass shafts gone to seed your clothes from a distance must look like flowers yellow panties purple bra blue shirt red skirt when we roll again applause from leaf bones snap become too big for dust and tangle in our hair dogs bark wanting food our movements feed fractures ants take flight earthquakes announce themselves with sighs and patterns and signals little claps erupt a small audience gathers the crickets crick and crick

Before Discovering We Were Chewable Hands could slide up skirts along the inside of thighs and fingers touch the ridge of silk the point when skin disappears and a hand could rest in a coat pocket clasped around another hand if the day was cold or they just wanted company and fingers could flick stray strands of hairs behind an ear and tongues could navigate between bed sheets to the plains of stomachs and find their way to necks and toes could dangle out car windows tangle up around long grass and then lift up into the night to twinkle in the air

Anchors For a moment we anchored to each other with tiny gestures we become fingers brushed at the edge of a jaw bone pressure against clavicle skin wet with fresh rain cool to the touch but spread out like waves of blankets legs knotted feet dangling off the edge of a bed or maybe couch or out a car window we anchored not to our place on the earth so it doesn’t really matter where our feet dangled to remember this point where a tongue finds the navel’s salt teeth skim the rhythm of the spine when we glow we’re anchored to something tonight otherwise we’ll drift and it’s a decade later and still no land is in sight

Frowns in Heavenville Delight doesn’t form in perfect shafts take a tenderness of hand in gray sometimes in slices of black for harder frowning fawns look outside at the souls in the yard mowing shivering salutations down the streets named after dead heavens there on Bright Heaven Avenue Heaven of Kisses Lane Heaven of Chairs without Legs Boulevard Heaven of Chairs Made of Orgasms Street Heaven of Orgasms Made of History Bypass Heavens are easy to forget like the neighbor’s names if we could just remember our heavens and our neighbor’s names we might not step into malignant traffic so often that river of benign parts metals and plastics and glass and frowns behind what it must look like to the antsthat hang underside of clouds their feet attached to the gravity of mist and belief the only way to explain why they don’t become rain declaring a constant war on our hair at this point no belief can demonstrate how ants could breed enough to make a war of rain into our hair and shirt collars which are made to open and allow a bit of remorse to blow in billow our sleeves with little sighs all belief is open to suggestion

Another Red Blessing Founded at the Post Let meat be known to her at birth so I’m a saw and saw myths in the news important enough to move water made to replace this afternoon use concludes our pace in the back of Kleenex boxes after not speaking correctly as to why not to speak correctly I’m not speaking directly at him in the market open on the phone along with a potted tree this sunny day this is not about you or some broken pipe organ alight at the compound of a oneself-command I tell myself I can’t play a musical instrument and that I never tried old water comments on the types crawling tenths of wire others seem to have seen reference I’m afraid to touch people in coffins as they move into comfortable poses around me on blue couches

You Sent a Dream to Your Sister You sent a dream to your sister from the afterlife you told her that in the afterlife everyone who ever was or ever is exists simultaneously in small apartments and the parking situation was bad too you told her I was there in some glass box reading always reading catching up on the books I never have time for your sister so I deleted her message and she called again with another message you sent to her in another dream you told her I will delete her messages and continue to ignore the dreams you sent your sister and the glass box is more for displaying me not the after life around me too busy reading you told her to keep calling

Many thanks to the publications in which earlier versions of some of these poems originally appeared; Angelic Dynamo, Escape into Life, genesis, SixSentences, Thunderclap and Venereal Kittens. Chad Redden’s work has appeared in several analog and digital publications. He lives in Indianapolis, Indiana where he edits NAP (

The Red Ceilings Press

MMXI [rcp 33]

The Lesson of Furniture  

by Chad Redden