Coquelicot in the Purlieus

hilly_suburbs_by_ducksofrubber-d4d7ckp

*Image found HERE

*This is a very long poem, just a heads up. I really appreciate and commend you if you read all the way through!

Coquelicot in the Purlieus

There is no wound to point
no light to enter,
see an angel pull a loose string,
see the devil tuck it at the center.
An old watch, rusting,
Hearts like a dumpster,
Fur coats hanging by the hook,
Smell of fresh pastry.
Love at the cemetery gates,
Faces floating like garbage
Down the brook.

*

When you speak words here,
They are there, but they are not.
The roofs are crooked, green,
Tied by the skinny, bony hands of willows,
White with stains
Beneath the sky,
Split and spilt
Magenta, purple, bluish hues
Like a probed placenta,
Sibilating,
Dripping its hope
Down the windows
And how you think it’s beautiful
Even though you know it’s just
Light pollution.

*

The kids set the chairs on fire.
They watch it burn,
Mommy the cat with her fangs in the rat.
Teaching the young.
Mommy with a needle in an open basement.
Trying to run.
There is no wound to point
no light to enter,
see an angel pull a loose string,
see the devil tuck it at the center.

*

My husband says the devil is a
Burger-flipper down in Cincinnati,
But somehow I think the devil is a suburban sister
Making club sandwiches
And elder-flower lemonades
And constantly, constantly, constantly
Begging
Her father to forgive.

*

Since we teach each other
To dream of herds of sheep,
Count the knots of their wool,
Cut our minds to strings,
Sheep, candidly bleeping,
Jumping over the picket fence,
Landing over in the valley, pure and green
And endless as we count them,
Until we forget we are we;
I have heard of androids
Dreaming of electric sheep
That buzz
Over, and glide through
Chipsets of a gigantic motherboard…

I’m worried that the dead
Dream of the living.

As they count
There is no wound to point
no light to enter,
see an angel pull a loose string,
see the devil tuck it at the center.
*
And poof! Just like that!
We were martyrs,
We were,
We were eating each other,
We was,
We knew,
Building a kingdom
In a flat that overlooks the river.
And poof! Martyrs, dirty martyrs,
Dry martinis,
Bleeding like a halleluiah
That puts the boatman to sleep.

*

What do you mean
When you say love is sold out?
What do you mean,
It’s a seasonal merchandise?
What do you mean
When you say wrong size?
I found love in a dying man’s eyes,
A love for the world that held his head under whiskey.
He had no wounds to point,
No light that could get in, or enter
His irises as an angel
Nibbled on his corners
And the devil was slurping his center.

*

An evening comes, let’s say
That around 23:35h
You lit a cigarette
And you decided it will be the last;
It lasts too short,
Blazes too fast
And after that you are kindly reminded
You are not allowed to enjoy suffering,
Just taste like ash.
It bothers you because it sounds like
“I don’t want to die”,
But the voice is pre-recorded,
Tucked neatly into a machine
Repeating and coughing
Into an ex-lovers ear;
Perhaps you used to take her to the arcades,
Perhaps she made your heart go
All boom like pinball,
Perhaps you adored and it still didn’t matter.

At the same time,
The closest I ever came to god, I think,
Was having a priest blow his Pal Mal smoke
Into my face;
His blue eyes like vast oceans,
His green eyes like absinth
Or Elysium fields,
Depending on the diagnosis that you need
To feel saved,
His brown eyes like forests, bending like a pretty noose;
City boy priest, refuge priest,
Billowing like a hookah,
Like a psalm, saying
“Only I am home”
“We are all alone”
“We are all alone”

*

What bothers you the most is
That you will someday be somewhere,
Like Ibiza, under a palm tree,
Clad and sweaty, with a cocktail in your hand
And a straw hat on your head
Surrounded by lulling foam, and waves,
Resting in a body, molded out of
Warm sand
And you will do nothing but
Shimmer, like a ghost.
Just someone who isn’t lost.
Just someone who can never be found.
Not around.

*

You tell strangers of the wilderness
That used to be there,
The unkempt weeds, nettle, burdock and ponceau,
And tall, sharp grass
In which the kids would hunt for crickets
With jars,
Interrupt their matinées on Wednesdays.
Fifteen years later it’s a McDonald’s,
Nothing changed;
Your face is the darkness of suburbia,
Looking in the mirror a million times a day
And asking
Who the Hell are you?
And
Is anybody there?
Because there never is a wound to point
(but something always hurts),
And never a light to enter,
(a kiss behind the newsstand and the light bulbs burst),
See the angel pull a loose string,
(the bastard still has my perfumed sweater!),
See the devil tuck it at the center
(my anathemas dotting the highways and the forests like houses)

*

This is our temple
And in our temple
The girls starve for starlight;
They starve for another girls mouth.
What happens on the hills
Stays a marriage to Moonlight
And can’t be broken.
In our temple we love you
Like the sky is burning,
Like the melting wings of the angel
Overdosed in a ditch.

*

There is no deity in the scar, all of it is knives.
Stainless steel and plastic surgery.
Love like burglary. Love like forgery.
I barge into your heart
And I steal the TV, DVD and VCR.
Let’s grind our bodies and fit into a vanity case,
I wonder will anyone ever
Buy us of the flea market
In the afternoon when
There is no wound to point
no light to enter,
see an angel pull a loose string,
see the devil tuck it at the center,
right here, underage, with beer in hands
at the corner of our cull-de-sac.

*

Don’t ever stop by these woods, no no.
Bad man will eye you as you walk.
Bad women will spy you, and cut you with their eyes,
Piece by piece, red, young, old, full of future lies;
They will sugar you and cook you into pies.
Never ever roll up your sleeves.
Never ever show them the orchards, dear.

*

Nothing grows here anymore.
We were drawn. Now the child is a sixteen year old.
We just sustain.
There is no wound to point
no light to enter,
see an angel pull a loose string,
see the devil tuck it at the center.
See me, chewing on peanuts.
See me, dreaming the world will change.
Like a horny seraph, it sways,
Entitled and eager, with its blonde locks
Of silky, smooth and thin hair
It rears its sunshine above the geriatric ward
Like: Lips? Here is graves!
Like: Let’s have brunch.
Like: Marry me, asked on the bus station.
Like: Never let me go.
Like: Tell the kids to put us in a nursing home
That overlooks a lonely square.

*

And we are
Open, 24/7,
Hands like a barbecue joint
(cheap meat, sweet sin)
Our hands like church bells
Baptized with mouth water,
Aching to tear down
And swallow the Moon,
There is no point to wounds
no light to enter,
see an angel pull a loose string,
see the devil tuck it at the center,
entertain the fools.

*

And Sun shines over the food-court
Of a mall in suburbia
And you feel proud and serene for
Convincing him to take a bite.
He’s chewing on the fries
In a cacophony of sweaters tearing gently
At the skins of everyone around,
Smelling like lilies of valleys, hyacinths, sandalwood
And there is laughter
Amid all the sounds
And it makes you think how
Convincing people over and over to stay
Under flocks of disinterested, migrating birds,
Just repeating Don’t kill yourselves,
There must be something in this world:
It pays, it pays,
In the shadows of the necropolis,
While wasting way the days.

*This poem was written for a prompt at dVerse, hosted by yours truly (that means me, yes!). Do come, join, read, write and chat with me while I am tending the bar! The topic of the prompt is Suburban poetry! Now go on and join in on the fun and writing!

 

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~ by Oloriel on February 20, 2017.

55 Responses to “Coquelicot in the Purlieus”

  1. Magnificent. Like listening to a rock opera. I will need (and want) to re-read it again. Thank you for sharing this…

  2. This is truly wonderful, you set the bar high with this, very much the growing up in a neighborhood that’s growing. The change and the things remain the same, a sens of battle between nature and development, between the grit of needles and the joy of being young… a truly epic poem.

  3. Wow, Oloriel! This is a true epic poem!

    You’ve created a suburban atmosphere with the
    ‘Fur coats hanging by the hook,
    Smell of fresh pastry’

    and I sense such despair in

    ‘Love at the cemetery gates,
    Faces floating like garbage
    Down the brook’.

    There is more despair in the roofs and windows and the addict mum in the basement.

    My favourite lines:
    ‘But somehow I think the devil is a suburban sister
    Making club sandwiches
    And elder-flower lemonades
    And constantly, constantly, constantly
    Begging
    Her father to forgive’

    and

    ‘He’s chewing on the fries
    In a cacophony of sweaters tearing gently
    At the skins of everyone around’,

  4. Yup–an opus, a saga, a novella–so full of fine lines & images, one cannot choose some to comment on–although you had me at /I’m worried that the dead/dream of the living/. You did set the bar high. My poems tend to run longish–& yes, there are those who shun them with their limited attention spans.

    • Thank you very much for reading and leaving me a word of your own. I know about the attention span, but there is nothing I appreciate more than a long poem, hence why I try to spread that love with my own writing.

  5. Indeed an epic poem ~ I need to read this again and digest it slowly ~

    • Thank you very much, Grace! Suburbs tend to saturate, stick out, feel heavy, hidden, laden with too much. Read easy 🙂

      • Too many good lines to quote ~ I say each stanza has a stunning image ~ Really a masterpiece to read tonight ~

      • Thank you very much, Grace! I would disagree this is a masterpiece though, in written form, I wish it was crafted more skillfully. But I do think it could be a masterpiece of the soul 😀

  6. WOW! An amazing read! I’m stunned at your ability to produce beautiful phrase after beautiful phrase as you unfold your story. Such talent! I fear the suburb of my memory is a bit more Rockwellian!

  7. Perhaps it’s me, but there’s an unease in this poem, almost as if the environment is alien to human beings and they have no business being there. It’s a place on the edge, but of what, I’m not sure.

    • Thank you very much for reading! Yes, the alienation is definitely there. I don’t know how it is everywhere, but in my country, suburban kids are often victims of prejudice and alienation (so are the village kids or similar), hence why we adopt this aura of strangeness, whilst there is nothing strange at play.

      • You’re right, there is a stigma to living in a ‘cité’ as if everyone fits into a stereotype, usually of thuggishness and misery. The same goes for the middle class suburbs, families with well-behaved children, but quintessentially elderly people who just want to enjoy their cash while they can.

      • Everyone, I think, is the victim of some form of prejudice. It just sucks when you huddle, in your local elementary, with kids just like you, then boom, you go to highschool in the city center. It was hell for me. I really did feel like an alien, I was alone always, made 0 friends, I was legitimately scared. I cannot even begin to imagine how others felt, who had worse fates than me.

      • Our youngest was at the kindergarten when we moved here from a small town. She went from a school (school, not class) of 13 kids in all, where they spent most of the day sitting on somebody’s lap, playing games, having naps or little snacks, to a centre city school of eight classes of 30+ kids in each class. She was completely traumatized.

      • Oh, i can see that. I do hope it got sorted later on. I am grateful to my parents they let me switch to a school more close to home.

      • She’s never really got the hang of making friends. But I’m not sure she ever would have done, no matter what kind of laid back, maternal school she’d been to. She’s just rather otherworldly and doesn’t like the same things as other kids.

      • It reminds me of me. But I can tell you that when I was pitted in a class with kids similar, who others labeled as misfits or trouble or weird, we all blossomed. It was not extraordinary, nor we bonded like brothers, but we had a chance for normal schooling, without wanting to bolt at the door and go somewhere else instead, every day.

      • Sounds like a caring, sensitive environment. What a shame most schools can’t take that trouble. People are people are people, and even kids are people 🙂

  8. My goodness this is absolutely gorgeously penned, Oloriel!❤️

  9. This is just an immense piece of work. Some very powerful images here and wonderful lyrical aspects drift in and out of the poem. I shall feast on this several times make no mistake. It will take a few reading to gather a full appreciation.

  10. I liked the angel and devil popping up throughout the poem. These lines got me thinking: “I’m worried that the dead
    Dream of the living.”

    • Thank you very much for reading. For me, it is always hard to distance myself from something that is familiar, I love, or consider home, like it is with the suburbs, I really had to forcefully ground myself and not romanticize everything, because I do know a lot of bad stuff happens in the suburbs, in all corners of the world.

  11. I have heard of androids
    Dreaming of electric sheep
    That buzz

    I like that, it’s cute.

    It pays, it pays,
    In the shadows of the necropolis,
    While wasting way the days.

    Lots of interesting phrases and places. It is an anthology in itself.

    • Thank you very much, I am glad that part could strike a string with you. And as always I was wondering will my references go unnoticed 😀 I am always glad when they do not!

  12. you are right, these days it’s a case of just surviving…so much pain and hurt is there….we’ve all been to this space…we’re so caught between nostalgia and utopia, like the refrain of angel and devil in the poem….

    • “caught between nostalgia and utopia” – such a great way to describe it, I think this could even be the suma sumarum or even the entire poem itself. Thank you very much for reading and sharing your thoughts with me!

  13. i don’t really like long poems, but this one is an exception. the pace spurred a real thrill that kept me hooked to every line. i was in a monologue of a suburban experience.

    • Thank you very much, I am glad this long poem managed to keep you interested, and I do hope it inspired you. I know it is sometimes tedious to read through something long, hence why I always leave a fair warning at the beginning! 😀

  14. […] the poetics and the bar tonight and asks us to write a poem about suburban life.  Her poem at Color me Cyanide  is just stunning and so many have written masterpieces I’ve enjoyed reading at Mr. […]

  15. Suburbia, like American whiteness, to me is the ultimate defense against growth, change, and dying: a perfecting stasis which drowns itself zoning out.

    I found the center of the suburban labyrinth, its minotaur, here:

    Your face is the darkness of suburbia,
    Looking in the mirror a million times a day
    And asking
    Who the Hell are you?
    And
    Is anybody there?
    Because there never is a wound to point
    (but something always hurts),
    And never a light to enter,
    (a kiss behind the newsstand and the light bulbs burst),
    See the angel pull a loose string,
    (the bastard still has my perfumed sweater!),
    See the devil tuck it at the center
    (my anathemas dotting the highways and the forests like houses)

    The whole is Dantean in its delve into the awful truth we’ve become. We, who have become the suburb of deathlessness, can do little else but die and let what’s left of the world grow back over us. Well done.

    • Thank you very much for your heartfelt comment, Brendan, I think it is both a curious and daunting task to draw parallels with American and Serbian suburbs, but I do learn a lot, especially when I get reminded that once we are sliced by a knife, we are all flesh.

  16. Sometimes poetry can be a quip, a whimsy….or an epic, a saga. You’ve done very well by the latter! 🙂 So sorry, I am late to the posting for this and late to the reading. Spending the month of February in Bermuda…and the seaside calls! 🙂

  17. You’ve captured so much. I’m intrigued by your ‘refrain’ tucked in and alluded to throughout: ‘see an angel pull a loose string. see a devil tuck it at the center.’ You show how there is so much richness, complexity, pain and so on woven into suburban lives.

  18. Fabulous vignettes of suburbia, Oloriel! Cities are full of anxious little scenes like these…thanks for starting the party with this fascinating epic.

  19. Your face is the darkness of suburbia,
    Looking in the mirror a million times a day
    And asking
    Who the Hell are you?
    And
    Is anybody there? this question will remain…………I think I can come back and read it many times….great!

  20. I enjoyed the verse about sheep, being a fiber arts lover myself.

    • Oh, that is such nice info, thank you for sharing it with me, and I am glad that verse was enjoyable for you for this specific reason 😀 Thank you very much for reading!

  21. This is poetry and story. I enjoyed this piece. A outstanding write.

  22. Reblogged this on johncoyote and commented:
    Please read and enjoy the amazing poetry by a talented writer.

  23. a fantastic write, Oloriel ~

  24. It’s a Broadway monologue. It’s a Shakespearean word play, a play in a poem, a tribute to life, a wave to death.
    “I’m worried that the dead
    Dream of the living.” I was blown away.

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