Monday, February 17, 2014

SEVEN NEW POEMS from Lauren Haldeman


This is my first draft and I join team ‘Keep Sleep.’ 
My number is behind me on my uniform.
On occasion I feel the iron-on plastic’s curve

and it feels like a eight. I might be an eight.
Our jerseys are off-white; our symbol is a pile
of fingernail clippings, slightly turned

to the right. A lawsuit requires this.
If shown from above, the pile too closely
resembles the symbol for ‘breath.’

Our colors are tooth-white & brain-
white and diamond. Our cheer goes
like gin down our followers throats.

Tomorrow, we play the team ‘Recall of Elephants.’
They supposedly compete with their eyes fully closed.
On their uniforms they’ve scribbled

the text of team movements in layers of grey pencil
on light parchment gear.  It is said
they remember. It is said if shucked open

their brains are not ‘whiteness’ but instead
slung with ink. For practice, we ambush
some trainers that scamper

in an elephant costume all over the field.
I do not understand this. I forget where I am. If
my tackle is blank, I fill it in with a blur.

This is my first draft. It is game day, and now past
the populace a comment on my athletics
is flashed. I’m so dominant an extreme

in my complex of living that each day begins
backwards from each hit I divvy.
So I join up team Keep Sleep. My back has a digit.

In a minute, I’ll witness the wipe of my tackle. 


I’m your mom. I step up. I attach a papier-mâché wolf head to my head, 
I tie fur to my back; I am your mom now,

a pine tree carved into a bantam,
a strong wind holding up an animal. I am your mom.

You don’t have to test your hold --
you can use the vines, you can pull yourself up by my teeth. I am your mom,

a heliotrope & plasma pile, steady, weather passing me;
this is my job, I’m your mom, I am

astronaut, helmeted raven; I am neutrons, plum-pits, core-mantle metallurgy. Baby,
you can pull yourself up by my teeth. 


First, an icy tundra where
our parents build a chandelier. A gallery
portrait: one has bubble eyes.
Mom says, see the trees
through the crystal: it is
like a festival. We are watching

multiple headlocks and the myriad forms
of evening, immersing
slowly in our heirlooms. Here
at the most perfect location
for a pyramid --
my wrist. You can peek through the

upper spatial window: inside it,
the spider and inside it: a hive.
Know that the spider is mathematics
alive. & Out from
each of us runs a star-proof. In our flesh-shape,
a wake of multiple rabbits
spiral through the tubular field. This is nice:
a Zippo lights up
in the ginkgo. A box of breeze unravels
the window. Bubbles
of voice and data bluster by
in this ice cave where we’re made

as small as we like. For instance,
a curve could pass us in
two directions. From our ambient manifold
we gather ourselves. This cavernous air
filled with geodesic loops.
And those -- The friendly tubes!


When the hypnotism lifted,
I was unusually alone. Hungry.
Knelling. Taciturn. Strange

smelling. Your plank boat on the bank
was replaced with dark leaves
in the shape of a boat. Heavy fog,

hickory. There was always some
consternation among the birds.
There was always a letter, blood-

streaked, in a bottle.
But this time, it seems, it is very
real. I’ve called for the monitors,

but hear only hissing. A new
word is written all over the trees.
 I’ve considered the thicket,

but only the dogs will go in it,
and they always come out
acting strange. Even Manteo. Very

slow. Leaning, as though
to tell a secret. But nothing. He seems to
know nothing at all. And nothing

erases the way your face blanked
when they came up speaking
with flags. Nothing fogs

how you smiled and nodded as they
slowly coddled you down. When
the hypnotism lifted, I lay prostrate

among catamounts, charcoal
and fluttering shapes
on the stage of a new century. Kudzu

luggage filled the lark’s fort. Half of
us wandered the courtyard,


Watch as my funeral becomes very calm.
It happens beneath the third lamp on the street.

I was a lamp once,
inside this big life --
An epistolary record
that scattered the leaves.

Now a shadow and a mailman pass the procession,
both of them mixing up each other’s lines.

I pet the purring
gnat on my chest.
I bite the light-bulb
inside the gnat’s mind.

As always a motor sings in the distance.
Somewhere, a bike makes continual leaps.

Under the sky,
flanked by cats on all sides,
I notice my skull --
it devours the breeze.

This gravel is gorgeous. It’s so wild and contained.
There are enormous projections of friendship today.

I put on this coat of
unavoidable feelings.
I walk to the fire-pit
and take off my head.


Six huskies will be hitched along by dawn;
Embroidered on my coat, the village heads.
In perfect composition, one by one,
The townsmen knot their wishes to my sled.
They have no right to place their trust in me
For I have been ignored until, now sick,
They come to me as to them came disease --
So in that waft, my un-picked hand they pick.
I’ll say of course that I am coming back
To harvest boon with any skull that’s left;
But as I tie the Wolf’s Bane to my neck,
I take both traitor-breath, then hero-breath.
Departing past their patron eyes, I think:
“I’m running through these woods, choosing these things…”


While the smaller human sleeps, 
observe its forehead: 

a glowing cord reaches to connect
to the mom-skull. This is how the pair

will integrate sleep patterns.
You can tell by the bright-green dashes flowing through

that a dream about mares
in liquid-dark has been shared.

The infant world is, in fact, liquid-dark.
Infant arms push

electric outer-space water. Watch it through
these goggles of emerald night-vision: the child bends,

syncing, toward the loading mom-skull.
People here call this

the 'neon whisper.'

Lauren Haldeman’s first poetry collection, Team Photograph, is forthcoming from Rescue Press in Fall 2014. Also: she’s a mom and makes paintings.