Spring 2010

Table of Contents - Vol. VI, No. 1


Poetry    Fiction    Reviews   

Tom Lachman


Fire Escape

Nothing so lovely as a fire escape
can be expected to waste decades
waiting to rescue a building.
Though its airy iron form is suited
to its purpose, it must perform
daily functions as well.
It must permit aproned ladies
to escape the indoor heat and smoke
menthols and dangle long legs high
above covetous cities. And allow
pensioners to fill clay pots
with geraniums and begonias red
against the black skeleton.
A gray cat must be free to prowl
up and down terraced morning shadows,
entering windows where gingham curtains
swell with scents of butter and cream.
For a sliver of day the fire escape is a sundial,
ticking black shadows on bright granite.
But by nightfall it is a stage
for black-gloved thieves and adulterers
gonging their unlaced exits.
Only the firemen,
forever cursing unenforced codes,
know the fire escape’s iron intent.


Poison Ivy

This must be what it’s like to need heroin
or, after months at sea, a red-haired wench.
All thought, all shades of emotion banished
by an urge: to scratch until it bleeds.
What a sight that would be: red rivulets
and eddies trickling over the gullies
and outcroppings of pink rash.
The ivy is as desperate for me to touch it
as I am to indulge. I torment the ivy
by lying awake in the dark twitching
and resisting. This is my hairshirt.
The ivy is dying to spread over my body
as it does over trees and trails
and trellises and tomato patches.

Initially, fatigue is no match for it,
but weariness feeds on itself until, sated,
it prevails. Still the urge never rests,
and sleep was all along the ivy’s agent.
I awake in darkness to find my nails
buried inside my inner thigh. I keep digging,
and undress the red-haired wench.


© Tom Lachman



Poetry    Fiction    Reviews   

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