by Jennifer Keto
The subway never fails to surprise me, walking down the stairs to find a man with a mop of Jesus hair in a Superman onesie, waltzing with a sock monkey, making the same mock surprise sock monkey face. A cheerio mouth and glossy button eyes, blank and guileless, so he could speak the same soft silent language only children seem to hear. His hand swaying, I wonder if his dance is asking or saying? I wonder where his other sock is staying? I wonder, this man miming, with just the one hand signing, just the one sock smiling, looking clean enough from here –
smile set shines wet
blood let cut red
mouth froze open
voice thought man caught
set on a shelf
those looking men
winking those hands
or much asking
they hold her blank
doll face and kiss
her purse doll lips
they close their eyes
two eyes always
open to air all
ways sting to light
always blinds sight
behind a face
so fine a man
would have to break to find.
Home less man sings
subway songs sad nameless, strummin’ his guitar to “Far From Home,” and all it takes is one coin, one heads up, thumbs up, one more hand out after hand out until hands can’t help but cup the soft snow of his song falling inevitable voice gravity rolling apathy to avalanche. There whir waterfall thank you’s between lyric lungs, and next thing you know, enough hands to chirp clapping. His sunless voice flowers, gathers what song seed scatters, and then come the birds: humming birds mirage throb harmonizing, a wood pecker timpani beak tappin’ to the beat, a tern a tit tat twitterin’, knocking that song scatting meter, clinging plovers crooning lover’s brooding, no more cranes neck craning, pacing for the next flight, no more fowl in sight waiting for tunnel light to grow and crow refrain, a young swallow bench seated, her voice perched twirlin’ circles, like a song bird without the words to step wings on sky. She didn’t have a foot on this earth when Neil Young was youngest, stringin’ his tunes strewin’ sounds mouth to ears cross country, and now that he’s years stretched older, noted echoes shouldered on another fella’s cords, she doesn’t know who she’s lilting along to, but the song makes her sing history, and the singing plants seed of stories old sewn man woman child, and the melody calls her back Home.
A teacher once posited, coin-deposited, “Have you ever
thought about becoming (dot dot dot pause) A Writer?”
(extra question mark eyes) My reply: (stubborn) Swallow,
(sardonic) Sigh, (cynical) Smile, “Yes,” my last S stuck,
clamped by flanked tight teeth, waving white surrender.
This yes keeps my head blown hot turgid, red-bobbing,
until teeth totter and rubber rims release a slow hissing me
flaccid. Yes, [I’ve thought quite a lot about that,] and every
time I come to the same Conclusion, that every time
I’m caught by the same Exception. The problem with
Conception: the right Conviction is needed to replace Ego
with Id and Pin all thought in Pen inked to find true diction.
Without the I for an E, I’m left with Convection: hot-air
recycling mind-breath atrophy gasoline wheels stationary
cycling wordless spokes, ganglion cysts churning unspoken
nerve splayed wasting more Thinking about
Writing than Writing about Thinking [ . ]
Own Best Lover
A woman bends over, each finger
soft thistles bristle roll and whistle
along her lilt tilt neck, a neck that
if were strange might prickle shiver
winds blowing dust desert sands.
Hoof kicking, culling cold bare
shafts, like cow licks waltzed slick
in hands, horse drawn hairs near
swishing, kissing such self caress.
No love less fond, fawn wrests,
nest ties with wrists her mink soft
mane, crowns eyes, so glossy deep
unblinking, reflecting lone shallow
shelf, stones skip watching, wanting
her pond touch to still chilled unrest.
Jenny Keto is an actress born and raised in Austin, Texas. After living the NYC grind, she returned home to change gears and become a nurse. While taking prerequisite classes at ACC, she stays creative by writing poems and looks forward to the prospect of helping people for a living.