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Jacqueline Jones LaMon

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.

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