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From Keyboards, Characters

by Nina Corwin

for Anne Silver, dec. 2005

    1. A comma here and there
  • and words pitch
  • an aria from La Boheme, become
  • tropical fruit in Carmen Miranda’s hat.
  • Shine shoes, park cars.
  • Comes the dust of an ellipsis and
    1. who knows…
  • A bevy of characters
  • comes on tap,
  • connecting us, as if genetically,
  • through sequences
  • strung out in countless permutations
  • a backspace can erase.
    1. (There are people
  • who see personalities
  • in every alphabetic letter. Favorite colors
  • and zodiac tattoos. Can paralyze
  • a timepiece with a single touch.)
    1. …You, my friend,
  • are an exclamation point, that is
  • the shortest distance to
  • the bottom line, a compact sentence
  • with a knockout jab!
    1. I am an asterisk.*
  • You insist: one comma
  • too many for a simple declarative
  • sentence. Precursor
  • to an afterthought. I am that
  • which never goes
  • without saying, sloshes into margins.
    1. Beyond that,
  • I am tresses spilling over
  • a tortoise shell barrette.
  • *Two cents more
  • than two cents more.
    1. But you –
  • you are a capillary
  • cut short. Last flag
  • at the eighteenth hole. Flamenco red
  • with castanets for fingers,
  • you are the arch and the eyebrow,
  • vodka straight up with a wink
  • at thought’s end,
    1. a salty staccato.
  • Moles can see it
  • from two blocks away.
  • For you: the quickening heart,
  • the sucker punch.
  • For me: the detour
  • sign where bridges are equivocal.
    1. And why stop there?
  • I am a pair of walkie-talkies and
  • the static in between. A clothesline
  • connecting two windows. Length of rope
  • just long enough
  • to string three sheets.
    1. Some days
  • are hunt and peck
  • at best, pig slops
  • and chicken scratch.  Others come
  • bearing tea and scones
  • on silver trays. Between whistling
  • kettle and compost pail, gourmands
  • and philosophers argue
  • we are what we ingest.
    1. But for now,
  • my dying friend, you are
  • Jimmy Durante’s final chortled cha!
  • in ha-cha cha cha! and if
  • you don’t mind my saying,
  • you are the ultimate in apogee
  • and fiddlestick.
    1. I, on the other hand,
  • am not exactly
  • an astral body in Upper Case,
  • but a binary star
  • in a busy constellation. Stopping traffic
  • to ask the orbits for directions.

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