The Chimaera: Issue 3, May 2008

Jennifer Hill-Kaucher

Goodbye Goodness

Straight-backed among Rebel Angels
and Mere Mortals, the two volume
Oxford English Dictionary swells
behind golden seals that assume
wealth. One begins and ends on vowels,
two supplements pizzazz, each broadlooms
type below eight point, a fly’s farewell
across the pages — a black bloom.

You let her have everything else
but these leaves of words that weave
without our eyes, expand like cells
under the glass. Goodbye is shelved,
kisses goodness to dispel
every myth of what it means to leave.

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Trotsky’s Axe

There is no way to articulate it —
the feeling of watching your ex with a new woman,
their arms interlocked like chain link,
her little purse and car coat and sensible shoes.
Every week you see them at the grocery store,
padding their cart with casserole ingredients.
You depend on this show, their life imagined
like a Hallmark verse decorated with foil,
snug in the right-sized envelope.

It is like the wish of two figures inside
a snowglobe, or else it is like a pebble in the eye.

She calls her pants slacks, they are all ironed,
and so are his shirts. Don’t forget
the little kindnesses they knit for each other —
Topping off the tank, or taking out the trash.
Popcorn on Saturday nights when dishes are done.

It is like counting out clouds
or else it is like being riddled with buckshot.

He holds her hand, and her hair is pulled back
from her face as they consider oranges, apples,
the cost of figs. She figures sums.

It is like holding a mirror to your ear
or else it is like blacking out all of literature.

The day you introduced yourself
was like stepping onto a movie set.
There was no improvisation
and you cludged the landscape,
kicked out lights. She struggled
for her line. So now, you keep it short,
polite. A hello. A smile. Enough.

It is like how Trotsky must have felt
with an axe rammed into his skull,
or else it is like Emily’s death valentines.

It is like burning down your dollhouse,
or else it is like trying to breathe underwater.

It is like speaking only in vowels,
in couplets, or else
it is like breaking apart the alphabet
to find a clutch of vultures.

It is like how a tree lets go
of its last leaf, a comma
on the wind, kissing the air
goodbye with xoxoxo.

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Jennifer Hill-Kaucher's second book of poetry, Book of Days, was published by Foothills Press in 2005. A Pennsylvania Council on the Arts rostered poet, Jennifer conducts poetry residencies throughout the state and abroad.