Three Poems by Carolynn Kingyens
Some diseases take time to manifest,
turning your body against your body slowly,
cellular changes so subtle they are imperceptible for decades;
through the birth of your daughter, death of your mother,
through the drawn-out divorce from Richard — Dick,
never truly believing him when he said he loved you,
through the five day, cross-country move when you turned forty;
buying a two-bedroom bungalow in Venice Beach,
painting the house colors you wouldn’t normally choose –
colors like lime-green, salmon-pink, banana-yellow, ocean-blue.
You adopt a stray cat you name Kerouac. He trusts you overtime,
brushing his lean, black body against your ankles every morning,
purring, both of you content.
It starts with numbness, that pins and needles-feeling,
the way your limbs suddenly fall flat-asleep when
sitting cross-legged for too long, then the twitching
and random falling that embarrass you at first –
before the diagnosis, before you learn your disease could be named.
(First published in The Orange Room Review, 2009)
Fantasy Meeting at Grand Central Station
Let’s say we run into each other unplanned,
inside a quiet terminal,
between red-eye flights, or even better –
Grand Central Station at rush hour;
marching among the mobs –
those coming and going,
dragging their wheeled-weight baggage
through the marble station to the stereo-sounds
of routine announcements
by a man with a thick, New York accent,
who is standing behind official-looking plexiglass,
announcing delays and early arrivals,
a lost child and found tickets.
It’s here, among the chaos, where we’ll meet.
I’m hot again in this fantasy meeting –
successful, a card-carrying somebody,
someone whom you would never expect I’d turn out to be,
and your eyes will tell of your regret,
how could you let me go just like that?
Well exchange superficial greetings as strangers often do,
and lie about pending plans and exciting lives back home.
You will try to forget the Florida-shape birthmark
on my thigh, and I will try and forget
the surgical scar on your right shoulder blade
from a ski accident in Aspen when you were twelve,
kissing it that night I first saw you naked and vulnerable
inside my doorway.
Comfort is cruel as still-life fruit
tucked inside the warmth of whicker,
left alone to the inevitable –
that bruise-brown rot dimpling the skin when touched,
or the subject of a novice painter’s whimsical translation;
either way — doomed.
Lennon knew about the addiction to creature comforts,
how it keeps us away from our best selves when he said:
Life is what happens to you while busy making other plans.
I imagine my father was once busy making plans, too.
But now he is the perfect example of the potato —
preferring the confines of a couch over the choices
of a hot drifter, who looked a lot like Americana-Jesus,
whom I once invited home to dinner.
Everything the earth-smell, dreadlocked nomad owned
could fit inside his backpack.
The rest, he said, is immaterial; the rest, he said, is dullness,
and dullness, he said, is a switchblade held to the throat
during a soul-jack.
The drifter’s absolute freedom had irked my father,
who was forever bound to his loyalties –
an aloof, dying mother — a hoarder-wife — a refi-mortgage — and me –
a lone wolf line of broken boxcars he could never escape from,
at least in good conscience.
(First published in 2012)
Carolynn Kingyens lives in NYC with her husband, of 20 years, and their two kind, funny, and creative daughters; a sweet rescue dog, and a very old, loving cat. Her poems have been featured in Boxcar Poetry Review, Word Riot, Schuylkill Valley Journal (SVJ), Tuck, Across the Margin, The Potomac, Orange Room Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Red Eft Review, Haggard & Halloo, and her poem, “Washing Dishes”, was nominated for Best New Poets by Silenced Press.