Three Poems

by Liza Libes

Oscillations

Timelessness arouses speculum.
What needs—it’s not the time to
Gesture at a tiny clock to rear a simple
Comprehension that is all but vague.
It’s fascinating now to see. Simple
Equations in the pontifical valley

Cater to the unimagined mind.
Radicals and variables, plethora of
Misdeeds unrequited and a sneeze
Passing by the whiteboard, professor
Writes another scene of promiscuity,
A gasp in absence of all meaningful

Data—it has yet to fall. Bombastic
Voices all around us and a symbol,
Ancient Greek, pronounces half the
Figments of our time and progress,
Swing together tedious pendulum,

Yet don’t ask of the properties, he
Recreates them still, floozy—is that not a
Proper name to use in appellation of
Another mark beneath a battered paper,
Relaxation. Assurances of trite succession
And a volley of success in future time.

a melody

piano

Those passions are but steady and upright.
Sanguine laughter flees towards the pitfalls of tomorrow.
Fingering a discordant voice that cannot but
Look away. But he is adept,
Mnemosyne a curse he’s learned to
Wish away. But his eyes are fortuitous capers,
Dancing past the melodies that she sends his way.

flute

She meets him in the vestibule at eight,
January’s Christmas wreaths entangled in a flurry of a
Banker’s reprehension overdue, questions crystallised
Into a conic dangling icicle. She adjusts her hat, progression
Halted by a stare. “Forgive me,” to the doorman,
“I am only here to see…”
The overtones seep deep within her portmanteau.

clarinet

An overcoat accosts her, much too large,
And they are nibbling on assorted finger sandwiches,
Rooftop swimming with an anachronistic sunshine,
Terseness and perversity. Tell me why I have been
Summoned, but she does not dare pronounce.
A cheque beneath an unclaimed spoon. Whispers
Pouncing airily, but for another day.

viola

A snowfall dots the Chelsea sidewalks, fragile,
As if in harrowing assault, in wait for them to burst,
Tumbling, turning, a question poised, dispersed.
The mellow aspirations of her sullied breath.
Shreds of celeste blue like wisps of wonder bolstered
By the wind. By the pier she scrambles to a bench,
Washing out the fettered memories.

bassoon

He undoes an emerald tie, waltzes to the
Bathtub, suspicions drowned in a melange of
Soap and medications, thoughts about his wife upstairs,
Who has just seen the kids to sleep, beneath an
Omnipotent moonshine she remains in bliss.
He counts the numbers on his fingernails, lacunae of
Details abundant, so shameless an expenditure cannot be dismissed.

cello

Across the park he asks her of her day, painted lashes
Beating to the pulse of Penderecki on the gramophone,
A lightbulb flickering, waning, still, and gone away.
It is but a trivial matter she describes, yet flames
In cheeks and ovaries belie a subtle miscommunication.
She shall never know what did provoke him.
What is beauty in a woman that is not one’s own.

oboe

In fountain pen his wife writes out a series of
Hypotheticals. Dartmouth shall accept him certainly on legacy,
And the eldest gone to Yale for economics, tradition,
Young Margaret must aspire towards Princeton, for they have
The lovely—indignation, obfuscating lamentations.
And what shall she receive of all of this? Unrecognised
Yet, and always. It is such a shame.

violin

Splayed over the quilted bedsheets are a series of
Unanswered questions, but that is just another platitude
Beneath an atmosphere of polaroids and rosy picture frames.
He asked to marry her someday. In her palms she nurses an old
Telephone, but in the novels brides are always frolicking,
Gossip of inanity, vestigial demarcations of a societal
Constraint and that unabashed moan.

french horn

In the dressing room she contemplates the bygone days,
Crinoline too tight, but she wanted it this way.
Photographs shall soon mark another sacred union,
Invitations out to all the ladies and the bachelors,
And her mother all too keen to lick a set of envelopes,
Arrangements made, majesty displayed, and on Saturday
Everyone shall be there but the one who shall be missed.

glockenspiel

Hanover should be pleased to educate another…
He blinks his eyes reflected in the windowpanes.
Saturday shall mark out a fête to celebrate a fortuitous
Future. And he, writhing with the knowledge of a
Vacillation, decision to be taken in another pair of days,
Careening down a set of glacial avenues and windy streets.
He stands outside the door, a twinkling in his head.

theremin

She thought the bridesmaid’s dresses would be better in
Aquamarine, but now a meek frustration pouring through
The halls, maid of honour rushes in, report of
Incident just outside the doorway, some hooligan
Claiming his right space. And shall he be dismissed?
She rushes down the stairs, heels absorbed in custom,
An overcoat and an abashed gaze to pose a question
Long deferred. And shall she want her father…

Amendment Thirty-Six

You were imbibed with parsimony
In an amphitheatre redolent of coarse perfumes.
Perfunctory ambitions soaring worthless
In a train car bound toward New York.

You were a faultless parasite
Knocking doors and travelling hallways.
Studious in quantum physics
Bound up in a dream.

Threnodies of taxi cabs and tarpaulin
Pistachios and chocolate wafers
Warbling commission and obedience
Something something impecunious.

Caffeinated kisses and a lisp of alcoholic fumes.
You knew well to fumble with the snow.
Maestro Noam Chomsky
Do not teach me how to play with words.

You were a consternation who did not desist
Thundering in the simulation of a cabaret
Imitation of a reverie by Heraclitus
Fountains draining faster than the blood of Caesar.

Modernity refuses to depart.
You cried a basin of bucolic tears.
Smiles interspersed with wonderment aborted.
You composed a series of infinite regress.

You were a flawless paradise.
Now I recline and sip a cup of tea.
I do not remember how to burn for you.
Immolation devolves into felicity.

I cannot remember how to recreate
Your chirrup and its haunting scent.
I cannot pretend to know your novel placement
Fiddle through your spaces.

Tomorrow sends a blitz of fallen snow.
You shall see it through Manhattan windows.
I shall send my wishes through the windows.
I remember how you used to love the snow


Liza Libes is a poet and a novelist studying English literature at Columbia University. A native of Chicago, she loves everything that New York City has to offer, especially its bookstores. In her spare time you will find her reading T.S. Eliot or John Keats for inspiration.

 

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