In the Beginning
And all along, we thought the beginning to be
that one word, but look–there are so many more,
the line and the stanza and the chapbook of words,
the shelves, stacks, and libraries lavished with words,
sentences dancing around independent clauses
on the coolest, star-filled nights. And all of them say, this
is the true beginning, and now this, and this, and yes,
even this, the rest of the night in the center of time,
a participle, dangling. You and I are commas, between
lakes and rivers and deep seas of words, the em dash
and the question, the ellipsis nearing dawn, pulled by
the moon’s turn of phrase. The best lines in the world,
belly up on the beach, and we know them, toss them
back into the depths. Our lives are separated by a series
of breathing double colons. And now this, and this, and yes…
The simple past. The present perfect. The future continuous.
No One Eats Icicles Anymore
And it’s rare to find people who drink water from a tap. People
care with fear, put faith in labels over content, envision
the crystal springs of Detroit and the Alpine mountain tops
of Toledo from the renderings on green labels fast-glued
to plastic bottles. Someone said, You get just what you pay for
and someone believed that wise guy and showered him with cash.
We all know that someone. We all know the risk we take when
faucets come from nowhere seen and don’t demand our daily
cash. This world once survived on our rainwater, collected
in buckets left outside our doors. Imagine. We once ran outside,
once welcomed the onslaught of weather. Imagine. We embraced
the cold, awakened to crunch and grind and snap, broke icicles away
from the rafters, and gave no thought to acid rain. Look at us–
doing better because we know so much, creating new basic needs
and flashy ways to fulfill them. We have come so far from olden days.
It only costs a dollar to quench our deepest thirsts.
The Death and the Dying, A Million Times over
And sometimes I feel like I live in a shadow
and shadow’s all I see…
–“Breeze Off the River”
The stories we repeat the most are the ones
that survive the years. Every year, those left
in this village enact the flood and the fleeing,
the women who were washing clothes, soon
so much of life scrubbed clean. They remember
the blessings of the priest, the fishermen’s boats
in the harbor, the houses of ill repute. Every
year, they perform for themselves, for all
who will come, the tale of the potter’s work,
how his children toiled late into the nights
that you and I need never eat from our tables
and drink from our own cupped hands. They
show how to make ropes to knot everything
taut, how to carve stone that will last. And,
every year, it ends with a marriage and a dance.
What he did. What she did. The forecasts of wind.
Jacqueline Jones LaMon is the author of two collections, Last Seen, a Felix Pollak Poetry Prize selection, and Gravity, U.S.A., recipient of the Quercus Review Press Poetry Series Book Award; and the novel, In the Arms of One Who Loves Me. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College and UCLA School of Law, Ms. LaMon earned her M.F.A. in Creative Writing, Poetry, from Indiana University Bloomington.
Ms. LaMon’s work has appeared in a wide variety of publications such as Ninth Letter, Mythium, Bellevue Literary Review, Callaloo, and Crab Orchard Review. Noted by the NAACP in the category of Outstanding Literary, Poetry, Ms. LaMon is the recipient of a host of honors for her commitment to university teaching, her social and literary criticism, as well as for her creative work. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and teaches at Adelphi University.