the muse apprentice guild
--expanding the canon into the 21st century




15 WORKS
BY T.A. LANE

AUNT MATILDA

Aunt Matilda rides a bus through the city
She cradles her shopping bag like it's a baby
She watches the cityscape pass by her window
Reliving memories, some real, some imagined

One of the last to get off and therefore has time
to nibble a stale sandwich and read Soap Opera Digest
with gray eyes clouded behind thick lenses

Her coat smells musty, the color of pumpkin
"What do you have there in your basket?" I ask
She holds it protectively to her chest and moves to the back of the bus

I follow her because she's so weird

Sitting in front of her, I turn in my seat
Her weary and frightened face slowly changes
I see a light flickering behind those lenses . . . behind those gray eyes

She leans forward and her mustached lip curves into a smile
I smell corn chips and peanut butter
I lean forward to hear her better, huh? What was that? I ask

"See?" . . . she says, proudly unwrapping her secret treasure,
"This is a monkey's penis," she says, "I use it to predict the future!"
I looked at it with doubt,

looked at her,
looked at it,

So you say, (silence), I cocked my head to one side,
Where did you get it, I asked?
She glanced around to see who might be within earshot
"From the Wizard of New York", she whispered
cautiously, holding her tobacco-stained finger to her lips

Then the bus stopped and she disappeared
In a pumpkin-colored blur
The bus pulled away from the curb
And Aunt Matilda,
cradling her shopping bag like it's a baby
And clutching her secret firmly in her withered hand
Nodded her head toward me and
with great purpose and determination
began to walk through the alley
where I had once twisted my ankle

================

BEFORE

Fell down from the river
a village collapsed
then settled
shuffled in during
that century
when lined faces
hadn't any names
card houses ran amok
among thin hands
bony fingers
I can still hear the clatter
of the moving contraptions
of that forgotten race

================

CONFIDENCE

There goes hotsie totsie
she broke off her heel
in the grate
for the third time this week
She glances at her reflection
in the storefront,
tosses the derelict shoe into the air
and catches it behind her back
with a wink

================

ENLIGHTENMENT

From bright beginnings
Ah!
A new leaf
our grins like rows of corn
like babies teeth and new devils
it is all just starting to ring true

================

FARM LIFE

I was two feet from the wall
I was two feet from the house

While the mice were getting
their little heads chopped off
in the barn

I was planting next years' crop
in my head

================

FOLDED BENEATH A HURRICANE

folded beneath a hurricane
dig in your heels it's stark reality

stretch out your hand hold it real still
maybe you'll catch an idea
as it slides from the pencil
tucked behind Galileo's ear

listen the rocks are breathing
(she aint no nature lover)

bend at the waist
but only count every other pebble

paint your toenails the color of perseverance
(she can peel an apple in one continuous slice)

they told lies about that girl in school
(Bernadette was her name)
because she was different

how can I sing
with a mouthful of pennies?

does it all come together at some point?

her eyes were always telling other stories.

folded beneath a hurricane . . .
she bit the hand that fed her
she wears her bruises inside-out
so the tag shows

when I fold myself
beneath a hurricane

I am nothing
yet
I am
still
breathing

Dedicated to victims of domestic violence

================

IN THE LAND OF THE DEAD

I lie flat
on my belly
while spirits
supernatant and
hovering
in their long, diaphanous gowns
that brush my skin like cobwebs
discuss Rilke

They become atmospheric light
of Prussian blue
Then, up the flue they go
like a yawn

Is it my reflection
or a wraith
I see in the glass?

Oh! How I long to take a holiday
dans la terre du mort

================

HEAD

"I sat against the edge,"
He said
"I sat against the stone."

[I blinked]

"I pressed my head against
The stone,
It wrapped around my brain
I think."

He said he felt a dent
Behind
He reached behind to feel
His head
I asked to look he said
"OK"
But what I found was
Empty space

================

LIFE AND SPACE

The sun, pregnant with light and heat
Bursting with the new day
Labors high in the atmosphere
While the moon rolls about
In her dreamlike dance
Without compassion for the Sun's
Constant affliction

I lay down on buttercups
Contemplating the birth of each planet
Searching beyond the light with my thoughts
Unable to grasp something so simple
Due to the poverty of my own imagination
I reach my hand into space around me
And wonder how many worlds I've touched

How limited my sight and hearing
For all the worlds to escape detection
If only I could come to understanding
My vision would perhaps catch up someday
And I would know with lunar perception
The mystery of this solar conception
That gives birth to life each day

================

I CREEP

Around the wall I come
Around the wall
My hand feels the way
Like ivy I creep
Along its edge
I think myself there
Like moss I grow
Over the wall
Toward the window
I creep
Spreading
A moss blanket
Defying gravity
I creep
Toward the window
My body sliding
Up the wall
A liquid spirit
Then twisting vine
Turning
Anchoring there
Beneath the sill
Whispering for you
To come to the window
Singing the songs of frogs

================

OLD KITCHEN SMELLS

Between invisible parallels:
flesh and shadows
Behind despair:
nightmares
Ghosts are speculating what
significant weirdness
awaits me there.

In my dream,
a bear hibernates
In Summer

How loss closes in on me

He left behind an empty pocket
where my cigarettes used to be
Everything I ever loved
was in that flannel shirt

Long ago
Lies
The measure of desperate acts
Behind curtains and old skin
Rusted furnaces and smells of smoke
Old kitchen smells.

================

ONLY IMAGINED

Did you notice the paint peeling from the walls?
It won't be there in 10,000 years

is my mouth only moving
or is sound coming out?

I never know who is hearing me
at any given moment

Just let me sit here
In this quiet corner
I like the way the rain sounds on the roof

Why are you just standing there
staring at me
when you could be running through the jungle?

How old do you think you really are?
Some of us know
Sometimes I know

Do you hear the girl crying down the hall?
Why am I so tired?
What is she afraid of?

Sometimes I think I am
only imagined.

================

PATH

The path, it winds
around in time.
I'll circle 'round
to start anew -
a pas de deux
would be sublime,
to step in time
from pointe to ground
without a sound -
the silent path
it winds around.

================

RESISTANCE

pulled down to flat
made creases in the smooth
with my Think

pushed flat with that
wrinkle up the flat
with my I-Am-Me

Stretched tight and taut
twisted it left and right
with my I-Can-Be

Pounded, grounded
took away my sounded
screamed dreams with my Sing-Thing

Pulled down to flat
made creases in the smooth
with my Think