EXPANSIVE POETRY ONLINE
A Journal of Contemporary Arts 

 

POEMS  

by

ARTHUR MORTENSEN

____________

Visitor

I heard a tiny noise, the click of claws
On furniture. I wasn't startled, no.
A window open with no barring screen
Was invitation to a visitor.
I caught a glittering eye and switched on lights
To be confronted by a silent crow.
I rose in bed to look more closely but
My dark companion neither moved nor breathed.
I don't keep birds, alive or dead, or know
A taxidermist with a sense of humor,
But crows are rarely known for brooding silence.
Although its stalwart stance and brilliant eye
To me suggested voiceless watchfulness,
A silent crow was much more likely dead,
Although -- standing by my bed, unlikely.
And so, without a laugh, or trace of knowledge,
I dared approach; the black thing didn't stir.
I reached, fingers extended, to touch its bill
Which did not open, snap or otherwise
Respond as if my touch would not be welcomed.
Its eyes lacked blinks or any other movement.
I stroked a single feather on a wing.
Its jet black barbs and barbules didn't quiver,
Nor did its square-cut tail wave up and down.
Its deep black claws remained precisely locked
As though the bureau's top were made of glue.
I watched a while but, growing weary, sat,
Then slumped, asleep against a heap of pillows.
At sunrise, when I started from a dream,
My bureau's top stood empty, clean and dry,
A proof the avian dead can sometimes fly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Shunning Game

 

The club's reunion meeting started late.

I noticed that our unelected leader

Had got herself all twisted in a speech.

She stuttered futures she could not define

Without resort to thick and dull abstractions.

This course of rhetoric convinced the man

Who stood inside my suit to step aside.

In this it looked to me I was unique,

For the members gathered hadn't doffed their suits

Confronted by conformity. Instead

They pleaded for acknowledgment by voice,

As if locution set them each apart.

I did raise mine at once, a clear, fine sound

Articulating nouns and verbs in order,

And aimed at answering every question posed.

Despite these merits, no one seemed to hear.

An old friend smiled but then she turned away.

In fact, I noticed many backs were turned.

I wondered if my tongue had gotten burned.

 

 

 

 

Public Confessional

One thing Moira did; she paid attention,
Watching each move the Senator would make
Whether in the office or on tours
To greet constituents and major donors.
She watched his hands and arms as he campaigned.
He didn't hesitate to hug the men,
But for the women he would always bow,
Clasping his hands together, never crossing
A barrier as strong as ferro-concrete.
When called into his office, she saw much more:
His ground floor office was exposed to view,
The curtains open -- passersby would wave;
A gate on either side of his oak desk;
A line of chairs set carefully back from that;
And a door that never closed. The latter caused
Her some distress when she had failed a job,
Embarrassing both office and its holder.
She wanted to discretely tell her story.
"Don't close the door," he said, and stepped inside
His little fortress, stopping to acknowledge
A Pinkerton guard who paced the walk outside.
"So what's gone on?" he asked in normal voice,
I.e., one heard throughout the busy office.
An equal volume was her only choice
Lest some might hear in whispers proof of guilt.
"Well, live and learn," he said, turning to take
A call that loudly beeped his yellow cellphone.
She told me later she had felt alone.

 

 

Abandoned Out

A baseball streaked across the sky, and I,
Sensing a change of climate, chased that arc
Until it ended in a cracked old mitt
That someone'd dropped beside a heaping dumpster.
Nestled in that glove's unoiled pocket,
A prize awaited my acceptance of
Its accidental nature: how it fell
To gravity, not will; and then was caught
By no one visible. That called to mind
A question: if a fielder dropped his mitt
And that was all that kept a batted ball
From landing fair, would there be an out?
The only answer was a distant shout.

 


 

 

 

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