from Voc Ed

Letter Box

A tree looks
like the letter T

  which is what it represents.

The moon appears to be

        but only mimics a cat.

The duck might be talking on the phone
and will have to be turned over.

              I’ve decided to remove the king.
              But doing this leaves a hole I cannot fill.
              Examining the hole with my finger disrupts the painting
              and now the painting stands disturbed while within
              the characters weep.




Cartoon skeletons, an inverted I.
Bowler seeking mind: the flat joke.

Two eggs broken with a device meant to save.

The being was only a boat, though it knew its way back home.




I woke as a pair of arrows, a Yo-yo owl, guarding my flag

with my three fives, my two threes, my sevens. I, loving God

by laying eggs for my country (a rainbow-striped zebra or just

a black and white zebra or just a Z),

woke with the clock on my breast like a rose.

I'd been dancing in red shoes as an empty box meaning nothing.

All of this says, "I longed for you," the ghost of a tree, the teacher.






This is how I make it: with my hands, like a cake. Since the clock says time has stopped, I must have been sleeping. Slowly every book is removed from the shelf, every bird makes a morning tune. The freeway is full of what was and isn’t. We call that commute. I’ve never been so angry in all my life. That is why I smile so readily.

Once I was opening a door for my son and as he skipped through—back leg bent up, head thrown back, yellow gun tucked into his sleeve—I was aware I had just left the happiest moment of my life. Everything I read that year engaged the non sequitur as an expression of glee, pathos, or resistance. I decided to turn such devices to my own uses. Tucked in but triggerless they’ll form one out of anything: stick, soap, sandwich.

That is called authentic which is sufficient to itself, which commends, sustains, prooves itself and hath credit and authority from itself.

At the chalkboard now, the manager concludes the plan. We’re to write it down in our notebooks. But not all of us are convinced of his authority. At the same time, we’re not convinced of our own. Presently, the food arrives and that solves it, as when, during the most intensely terrifying arguments on the congressional floor, someone makes a joke. “Excuse me,” the joke begins.

Eastward then. The children complain: “We always go hiking!” To quiet them I tell again of the wizard who will turn you into the thing you love. My son becomes a jar of maple syrup and pours himself down my daughter who has become a slide. Luckily, their friend Miriam is water and cleans them up. In the logic of becoming unmade I make myself a mother.

It begins to be done. I must look only for epigraphs while the muted clock keeps me company in a room where leaves strewn across the floor mean I’ve come through a garden to find the name of love, the definition of a reader:

But I was a lover, another thought began, sliding over the other silently and orderly as fish not impeding each other.

The fog is in. I cut down many branches of the tree. Red blouse under white box. The calendar folds. Was I an O? A king with a golden crown? Was I will I be fun?




Volcanic fire in the face of the queen.
One eye toward myself, the other natal, removed.

From zero to one I looked for food.

I was lost in your face,
or under it.





Three dancers in the park roll their T shirts to their ribs, flip onto their hands. Have you noticed how common handstands have become? I’ve been weeping, but not in a way anyone could tell. S in the center of my form flush with the fire from my neighbor’s smoke. A blister on my finger foreshadows the shattered taillight. Hold still, duck, we wish to watch your feathers dry. My children climb the fence to talk to the pigs. I am that: steadying.

There are two kinds of money-makers. One’s a miser, the other’s a must. Here’s the absolute truth you were looking for: I know the ground by my feet on it know my mind by your distance from it. And may all things bear a new name. In the rush of becoming unknown. I dreamt my book was written in marker, glued in photos of women and cars. Stood at the cooler tasting mud. Water will be free when the war is won.

The children dump the letters out. The children put the letters in. Then I take the letters away (they were beginning to fight). It’s a toy, I say, but a grownup one.

Loiter in the car-lot tending the silence. Light bounces a rubber doll. The ferry immobilized in thickening ice. Equivalence undone leads to correspondence.




6 whys sideslip in an open mother.
Birthing termagant—





I am the grass and the budding

I the sand sacrificial

“The large dog pushes
the smaller off the cliff, and I am

                 the hiding from death.”


And you—
my heaviness, my rearing-up, my having nothing

                                                                         to say.




"Mind is the spell that governs
the outspread world to span.

A thousand glimpses wins and never sees a whole."

Sing screen our darkness in.

Julie Carr's book is Mead: An Epithalamion (Georgia, 2004). Poems from her new manuscript, Equivocal, appear or are forthcoming in Verse, Five Fingers Review, Bayou, Xantippe, Iowa Review, and Columbia Poetry Review. This is her second happy appearance in Tarpaulin Sky (see V2n2-3).


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