Standing in the corner
The chair ended up in my hands
while watching a childhood western.
Spindles, rungs, rails and splats,
the seat a block of burled pecan,
whorls of accidental events
frozen in the grain,
transforming history into design.
Tendrils slither and suck,
saplings spiral and aspire,
biting beasts writhe and burst,
four legs dive roll through rolling hoops,
slat back the clasp on a small silk purse,
rungs the taste of lipstick and lavender oil,
rails the lick of sweat on an upper lip.
Substitutes for grace withheld
Take the materials of your life
lying loud and unused about you —
that box of limp and tangled limbs,
that prickly phallus in the wheelbarrow,
that brain, assigned at birth and labeled Manny —
mount them on metal posts
with screw-through collars,
clamp them on the mover’s dolly,
rumble over cobblestones
through car-crowded streets.
Offend fenders, curse and curdle,
roast all and cauter over time.
Become Rumor, the herald, raging in the genes.
Or a minor goddess waiting for her recognition scene.
The doctrine of surrender
From the halls of hardly gods,
to the slippery arms of shore,
past the rows of shards and cradle-cracks,
grab the greasy doorknob,
whip the cartoon double-take,
clap hands and donkey laugh,
do the blind and grin, the stomp and sing.
Let clang melody, let stall lyric,
stutter rhythm and bleach memory.
Toss oars! Lap storm! —
smooth shell to cognito coast.
You couldn’t miss it for the world
O sweet sweet hour,
irresistible drip of urge and yearn.
The grey man in the tan suit
shielding his crossword
from the setting sun.
Under his breath,
the boy at dusk
The slab’s shadow
lengthening and looming,
blending into night,
leaking through the letters
and the chain link fence . . .
Lawrence Arancio has appeared in over three dozen plays in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. His film and TV work includes guest starring on “Law and Order,” “L&O SVU,” and “The Practice.” He is currently the Chair of Acting at CAP 21; prior to that, he taught acting at HB Studio and Columbia College Chicago. His short stories and poetry have appeared in The Iowa Review, Poetry East, Sycamore Review, Rosebud, Rhino and other literary journals; his plays Mystery in Space, Alcimero, and Sing for your Supper have been produced in New York and Chicago. He has been married to the actress Ann Dowd for a long time, and they have three wonderful children.