Susan Brennan
from Caketrain Issue 01

I  Joan of Arc Burns in a Living Room

TV trays uphold bowls of peanuts.
Venetian slats wedge out the afternoon.
Old ladies from the building have gathered
to watch a Hallmark special.

Then there’s a darkness between light —
Turns itself to blind them.
The darkness, substantial, a web
despite the curtains of everyday radiance.
Joan looks to them.
At first you think you want to know the meaning of everything,
and then it doesn’t stop.

II  The Wine

As a fox, all that’s possible is grapes.
Never the sweet tangy of hidden passageways.
I’m flustered; maybe I should want something else.
The whole forest keeps itself from me
and lovers have left a bottle to spill.

III  You

I still know you;
I just know you as gone.

IV  Life’s Little Spell

Each of us, with a heart crammed into muscle,
          sparkles the knowing out loud.
     I claim orange, its ruckus surprise.
As a father, you mended me into cells,
                              a bud of your blood,
              then you wondered: chemically,
                           I was a daughter starling,
                           a daughter of constantly departing affection. You drew pictures on every brown bag lunch.
My memory presses out crinkles
                            as best it can,
        mounts each on an iridescent sky.

V  Oops

Thick jade eyes sweat.
Moments of iron fume
and then children appear
wings drawn on.
Dice with snakes’ tails.
A storm wraps the sun.
Coals of sound sheltered in an alphabet —
People die for words,
break down to smoke.

VI  The Old Ladies Come Back

They open the blinds.
Framed powdered twilight rests on their shoulders.
Clara’s dying;
Again. This time it’s permanent.
They make all the jokes friendship will allow.
A stranger, from the building across the courtyard,
watches, imagines the wealth of long life.
The Brooklyn Bridge, a crane, flutters beyond
traffic lights, green fallen stars.

VII  Don’t It

Joan forgot she would get so caught up in coughing.
Shapes boil into colors.
How many strangers do I know?
And what of the millions to come?
One tongue fits its shape into another,
Expressions wilt from fear of being lost.
A small child waves through the bending heat.
She doesn’t understand the fire
    in a very different way
I don’t understand
      orange hands, hidden wicks.

Caketrain is a literary journal and press based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Our interest is in bringing you, reader, the very best in contemporary creative writing, full stop. Our goals are for each issue of our journal to submerge you in a birthing tank for gelatinous language monsters, young masses of tentacular foci undulating as directed (in all, at once) by our eclectic stable of contributors; for each new book we publish to seduce and ensnare you, sometimes intangibly, always undeniably; and for you, reader, to be able to draw at least one passage from our banks that prods your mind with such precision and power that it feels as if it was written for your eyes alone. To wit and to whet, here is a snippet, a slight nip of our delicious lit mix:

Copyright 2003-2006 Caketrain Journal and Press. Rights to literature revert to their respective authors.
ISSN 1547-6839.

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