Knife of peasants,
alpinists, artists. Thick
bladed to scrape leather,
carve cheese, untangle vine,
release trapped lambs, hack
out ice, slice flesh.
     The real
ones, carbon, sharpened,
oiled, darken in a man’s hip pocket,
fit the palm perfectly,
snap open when he knocks.

Likewise, horsemeat,
scrawny rabbits, small boned, gray,
for sale, without shame
dressed in fur, ready for him
to skin them into stew. 

He’s brought pear wine,
unlabeled, illegal,
bows in courtly folds,

prying, savoring.



Meanwhile, the #71 lingers, then leaves.
That guy with a wide bandage over his nose,
here at 5am, does school before he works,
big shoulders sloped to a book.

The two cops nod to him, one tall, one wide,
under imitation tulip lamps
on cracked brown counter stools.
     Why do I care?

     Because of their weight, how they carry it,
slouched, thick-thighed, but feet on the floor,
a little alert, mostly at ease.  And the vinyl
seats splitting, accommodating
the wide hind petals, men.

My tabletop, a maple swirl
one inch thick and washable. Not real
maple, that’s the point
that someone wanted to evoke it.
Comforting, they must have thought.

     I presume that I'm the interloper, voyeur.
But what if I'm part of it?

The ex-marine at the counter leans
toward the waterfall that is the blond
waitress, high cheekbones, high plans,
who lifts her cup to his
earning tips for a real house someday.

Eric, “glow-in-the-dark bike shirt,” shuffles in
with before-sunrise sunglasses. As usual, I assume.
One damp leaf on the floor flips up
tracked in on a boot, stem arching.

That’s it, the way it’s all related,
     unnoticed.  Someone will sweep later.

He wants the Grand Slam: Eggs bacon
spuds and toast, no cakes. 

On the radio another species is shrunk

in a jaunty morning voice. 

     Not dire.

     Everything works out,
says one painter to the other, adding
packet after packet of sugar to his marriage.

I can hardly eat, I'm so full
of love for those
     who don't know I love them.

It’s only raining. Toast is buttered.
The sky grows lighter, slightly.

from OPINEL, forthcoming Fall 2015


Oona’s Left 

Blow that trumpet honey. 
No shimmy, no shine, no 

abracadabra.  The marriage was
planned leather, blankets, 

maroon table, red rug, gold
sound of trombones, slide time 

to two-step his skinny smile, 
in the blue-lipped bedroom. 

She’d lingered nude,
windowward.  But the tailbone inside her 

hip could tilt.  If she minded her manners,
she could untangle.  Instead, she hunted 

the bone the fox left.  Went and left
with a cha-cha-cha, watching. 

Oona over the rocks.
A cleft between dimple and intent. 

(Harvard Review, No. 31)


Global Warming

Oona’s nails are pink as abalone. 
But she won’t shake hands.  Everyone’s holding 

cell phones, happy as clams,
in clenched grins.  I’m calling 

my twin ear, she says, they say,
to hear myself.  My onion, 

my own Vidalia, Slim Him says,
my yellow butternut, my sweet

potato, he laughs, specializing in vegetable
speech.  Oona’s smile curls 

like crazy.  It’s always fifty-three degrees
below, Slim speaks, geothermally.  They

are sinking in snow, knee-deep.  The hemlocks
wear hulky snow jackets.  Groovy

says Oona, out of date, she’s in duo-
folds.  It’s impossible, anymore,

to say what’s natural.  May as well
wear feathers and skin.  She’s been

plucked, pruned and brushed herself.
Oona’s got a mood on.

If anyone can be anyone, we must all
be one tree, she says.  Her outfit

quivers.  The white fox clenching
its own tail in its own jaw.


(FIELD Magazine, Number 70)


from Admit the Peacock


Step after step growing up
was the same as being alone.
There was no one on the street
but the gray house with that cross
of roses, where the father’d died.
At home, there was always
a vacuum cleaner somewhere.
And I was always
humid. My head full of damp
leaves, or the dowager magnolia. 

Then married (under Western skies
like the movies,) I walked all day
one day with him on Catalina Island,
though we passed a white stallion,
and those bison, too weak
on feeble knees. We didn’t speak.
I sucked for juice a prickly pear.

Better to admit: the peacock
screeched all night.



Let me go. Let me go!
He hits the lets with operatic force, willing
the people past the Red Sea. Me go. Me
go, amigo. Friend for life.
For life, for life, for life. No.
I don’t need the sons of a bitch.
Then he sees me. They can go.
They can go, dear. Just the two
of us. No shit and corruption.
Corruption, shun.
The deed is done. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7.
Goodbye. The shit they see is the same shit
they saw, no shit at all. 

Sitting close to the white edge, I watch
the night nurse’s sullen counting
of the hours, the number of pills. The one, two,
three, to get him out of bed, to wipe
his mouth. To wipe any of him.
The one, two – to move him
from the left side of the chair to the right.
The one to take food. The night nurse reads
a magazine about Jesus. Her big calm
body able to take his in her arms.

           (MARGIE, Volume Five)


from Inside the Exhibition




                                            All poems © Rebecca Kaiser Gibson

Order now from Bauhan Publishing for $16.50.

Website and content © 2007 – 2010 Rebecca Kaiser Gibson.
All rights reserved.