Unblues This Passport, poems by Cynthia Schwartzberg Edlow
Cynthia Schwartzberg Edlow’s poetry collection is The Day Judge Spencer Learned the Power of Metaphor. Her chapbook is Old School Superhero Loves a Good Wristwatch. She has won the Red Hen Press Poetry Award, The Tusculum Review Poetry Prize, Willow Review Prize for Poetry, a Beullah Rose/Smartish Pace Poetry Prize and three Pushcart Prize nominations (2011, 2015, 2016), two of which were nominations from the Pushcart Prize Board of Contributing Editors. Her poetry has appeared widely, including American Literary Review, American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, Broad River Review, Chiron Review, Cimarron Review, Folio, Fourteen Hills, Georgetown Review, Gulf Coast, Levure Littéraire, The Los Angeles Review, Main Street Rag, Plume, Smartish Pace, Tahoma Literary Review and The Texas Review. Poems also been featured in anthologies: Even the Daybreak: 35 Years of Salmon Poetry, Drawn to Marvel, The Emily Dickinson Awards Anthology and Not A Muse. New poetry forthcoming in: Fulcrum and The Plume Anthology of Poetry 5. Forthcoming in 2017: a second full-length verse collection, Horn Section All Day Every Day, from Salmon Poetry. In 2017, she will be teaching poetry craft and workshop classes at Phoenix Center for the Arts. Blog: http://cschwartzbergedlow.blogspot.com/
Unblues This Passport
Like sweet relish, people whose music you feel hip to
always look to be smiling with him, all teeth
in the old pictures. Arms creased
casually over each other’s shoulders.
One very long time ago he fouled the lean
back row of the tour van, smoked crack, cramped
and frankly in peril, fishy-eyed,
but still that strong popper jaw.
So it is not without the greatest incongruity of happenings
or the possibility of entry into some atmosphere of grace
that here tonight he plays out every “dear diary”
chestnut—hitched in wedded union
to an authentic medical doctor,
a licensed Italian doctor who doubles
as six-string bass guitar
there behind him onstage. Proprietary in her tight
blue jeans. He fronts the stage lip like Viva Zapata!—
leather crisscross bandoleer chest,
each harmonica smirking or winking
in its own precious cocoon.
Can’t sing worth a house wren but yes,
he can play. He can suck up notes and blow out
different ones in the same dollop of air.
The drums, seen everything,
speaks merely now. Guitar and keyboards, they slip
under-table bets this bass woman lasts—
except, back in their trailer, come 4 A.M.:
when do we go back to Italy
for Mama Sophia’s basil linguine?
I want to swing in the hammock.
Hang out with the goats with their neck bells.
You have hospital rounds soon.
Let’s squeeze in the one-night show at the Apollo,
then we hightail it for the hills.
I promised the gang. It’s all-star night,
c’mon, it’s bigger than the both of us.
Rosie sewed on crystals
to my new stage pants. Turn around,
that dress looks good on you.
Keep the change. Buzzbug,
help me with this collar.
There’s not a thing I can do.
On The Mind Summiting In A Pool Of Sweat
Not sunup yet, but that same caliber of gray
as dusk on its way toward dark
except there are bits of cream dropped in it, and the kitchen
is strange, in this light like night but not. Coffee
would percolate me if the kettle would appear. Because
darned if I don’t see a thing outlandish I’m afraid to say.
Outside corner of the backyard there, a scrawny
silhouette of a small man, he darts, jabs
as a sparrow caught in the rafters
aspires to blue sky. I’ve just moved into this house, I
do not know it; my mail delivery isn’t flowing yet.
Some thirty years, widowed, retired, my real house
gone, and here I am. Perhaps the landscapers
didn’t yet get their last invoice paid up
and a cease service note from the prior owner.
After all, he might be about to fertilize something―but where’s
his edging equipment, the bags of manure, a shovel—
And he approaches; sidewinder. My glass arcadia door.
A decorative garden rock, helmet
clutched to his breast. If he admires it
I could gift it to him. Some people possess queer
penchants for decorative rocks. Whatever I do, I do
not run. This will infuse him with courage,
and game. Running prey can be delicious.
I might holler through the as-yet-unbroken glass,
I too have a gun. And I do, which I do
not, and which he does not, although he too hollers it,
which of course I do not know yet for certain. And now
a new idea is knocking, except he is demanding
where is my car? And I say I didn’t say I
have a car, why do you think I
have a car, what are you talking about, car…
As if this is philosophy class and I am a babe
and shining again for the sexy professor
from New York City, his tight black pants and sharp
black shoes, long wicked hair, two black eyes,
and hammered gold
wedding band worn knuckle to knuckle
on the third finger of his right hand, like
an exclamation against gullibility. Him
in whom I possessed a slobbering crush, oh
to exhibit debatable powers
of deductive reasoning rather
than be a goat to a crime scene and I
at the helm of it and if not helm, certainly
first goddamn mate, nautically speaking,
but like a bag of wind, I digress. Seems
the two skittish mahogany Doberman pinschers,
who sleep deeply as if pill-addicted,
now groggily navigating the kitchen table’s legs
for the metal chink of the breakfast bowl, stir me,
the idea widens into a cauldron,
my mind enters as a tugboat, ugly, ill-starred
and perspiring, but all engine
into this moment of my life mine and not mine
for I want my soul to persist in my body
and I want the skies to hail down whatever they please
but upon me too, and when tomorrow brings
its eleventh-hour appreciation
in a classic frock, I want to attend
with the fanfare of the unrecognized, the barely-by, fully-
grown, touring the uproarious strains of what love sounds
like to the living.
UNBLUES THIS PASSPORT is appearing in a forthcoming collection by Salmon Poetry, February 2018. ON THE MIND SUMMITING IN A POOL OF SWEAT has been published in The Day Judge Spencer Learned the Power of Metaphor (Salmon Poetry, 2012). Originally published in Gulf Coast.
© Cynthia Schwartzberg Edlow