Visions Of Monet

Are people looking at me strangely
Or is it only my eyes
I like to make strangers of my friends
Recalling only faceless people with indeterminate outlines
I have visions of Monet
Vivid and emotive yet nondescript
Where I don’t remember any details
The twitch in the top corner of your lip
A hook tooth grin from the man selling ice cream cones or cup
Out the back of a dirty van
We question the sanitation but not our sanity
Buying two soft serves each
One dipped to wear melted chocolate waistcoat
The other with coloured sprinkles and crushed peanuts
You joke that they should offer skin flakes
From the sunburned swimmers backs
We know the white slop contains ground up chicken feet
We don’t speak of that
It’s only a rumour
When you come across cartilage you spit it out discreetly
Fearing the embarrassment of something that isn’t your fault
It rained and we jumped on the bus
In my mind we were dancing on the roof and the driver shouted
Shouted like our mothers did when we danced on our beds
I hold dear these fabrications of mine
Of us amidst some frolicking fabric fantasy
Under the sheets with my heart jumping
We did not jump though
Sitting at the fingerprint window
In front of the obnoxious back door
That kicks the seat swinging open
Where the heater rests underneath
Above us a persistent leak
Drops fell onto your head and you put out your tongue
To taste aluminium shavings and not worry about metal poisoning
The bars under the seat around the heater heat scalding
The number of times I’ve left the skin of my calf behind
Goes unnumbered yet still I persist in taking count
I swear some skin is left behind
Sticking to the slightly rusted stainless steel piping
Now we know why no one sits here
A slow torture comprising a torrent of stale gutter water
With a side of burnt leg hairs
I wonder how you remember this day
Would our stories be the same similar in detail
A facsimile or facade
Nameless friend
I have visions of Monet
Though now you and I dance a waltz to Satie
I read you O’Hara and my favourite parts of Walden over mulled wines midwinter
You dance along the living room carpet for me
Edgar gets his canvas and oils to cast you in one of his immortal performances
Colouring you with pinks though you hate to feel beautiful
Colouring you with youth though you scorn it
Colouring you with all the nuances of a life lived blue
I’ve worked to paint the stock-pile of my mind
To accurately depict once before
They have no borders only the acid wash of ill-prepared preservation
I’ve scraped the layers to fall away
Discarded scales from a luminescent sphinx ancient and decayed
I can not discern or depict the scenes now
I’m left only with a growing pile of destroyed art
Laughing about the frailty of my remembering
I have visions of Monet

copyright Joel Lester

Don’t Hearts Make The Best Pillows

Don’t hearts make the best pillows
Airsoft mattress lungs stable on a ribcage bed frame
The chest cresting waves to lull heads swimming with discontent and heaviness
Ear to hear the sea inside their body relaxed to receive your weight and anchor you in place for you’ve been drifting and
Don’t fingers make the best hair combs
Palmistry over porcelain and tracing maps around face lines
Intertwining fate lines and heart lines and hard times together
A promise to take what might be delivered and send it packing
Rucksack over its stooped shoulders and
Don’t eyes make the best mirrors
Stained glass over the entrance way to your body temple
Shrine to the Goddess as Aphrodite sings lullabies and
Isis sits the throne the ideal lover and mother and friend and
Recycling breath heart to heart beat and tangled feet and
Butterfly kisses and Eskimo noses and
Don’t hearts make the best pillows and
Don’t you wonder why you can’t sleep without it and
Bad dreams abound and tight chest from pounding and
Tears pool around you and wonder why you can’t be that for them and
Comfort was an arm draped carefully around you while you were sleeping and
Now nothing makes sense and an ache is trembling and travelling about you
A waste to start the end of nothing and be back in square one and
Say it’s safer here than losing my place again and
There’s nothing left on their end and you start breaking again and
There;s nothing left that was ever yours to begin and
Now there’s nothing left and
Your head lies on a pillow of things unsaid
Muffled screams into the bed and sheets wet cold sweat
Cold sweat cold sweat
Heavy handed hard hearted sweat
Don’t hearts make the best pillows?

Richmond Crescent

Richmond crescent is a place I’ve made up
Imagined
Stolen
Remembered by accident
Stumbled over in quiet thought
What brought this name to me?
Richmond crescent
It sounds right
I will die here
This is where my wife and I will live
Maybe I’ll change my name to Kyle Richmond
Later in life to hide from stalkers
They’ll name the street after me
For my contributions to the community
Fundraisers and potlucks and backyard barbeques
Secret suburban parties where we put our keys in the bowl
I get to take my neighbour’s wife for a go
Watching mine being unlocked with the keys to our house
Then I take the husband for a round
I’ll never live here though
Instead I will exist as tarmac and weatherboard houses
Children on bicycles
Children selling pinecones for two dollars a bag
On the sidewalk
One will ask the other why they call this place
Richmond crescent
Another will put on his best Jamaican accent
‘Coz they Rich mon!’
They laugh how children do
You don’t understand their humour
You just want pinecones
To support young entrepreneurs
With bicycles and skinned knees and snotty faces
Remember I don’t live here
This place doesn’t exist
I will die with Richmond Crescent

Pocket Book

I’ve adopted the habit of judging my books
On how well they fit my coats inside pocket
The cover is only important in it’s proportions
Relative to a fabric square
Certain brands have become safe
Staple choices by virtue of there perfect uniformity
Moulding to my breast
I always need a book with me
This pocket lays over my heart
It will protect me from crazed handgun assaults
On these gentrified streets filled with dissatisfied bores
With useless degrees and coffee stained teeth
The bullet reads till page 289 before thinking
‘This particular translation of Proust staggers on uncomfortably’
It stops its death path of burning paper & melting ink
To find Proust prose it can truly bury itself in
I tell the bullet that ‘Murakami and Mitchell have melted holes through my wallet
Perhaps you will find solace at the end of a smoke trail there’
I then complain that this book was borrowed from the library
I’d have to pay the damages fine
I’d also only read to page 79
‘You don’t miss much’ the bullet replies
‘Imagine if Da Vinci had painted the Mona Lisa surrounded by crowds of faces
Telling you, “Pay attention only to that woman, the others are not important”‘
The bullet shifts uncomfortably inside my chest
‘I do not know where to read nothing is left between the lines.
This book is described with distraction, and I now search to reclaim lost time’
I do not listen to the bullet
Refusing myself to see the flaws of this translation
Blinded as I am by the quiet satisfaction of its binding sliding
With pure unadulterated bareback entry
Into my inside breast pocket
The air escaping from about it
My pleasure sigh eruption
The only other copy I find is too large
Though written with vastly superior prose
My pocket will not take it though
I must move on to find another soft rectangle comforter for my heart
To beat against as I move about town hoping to appear sophisticated
Hoping to not be shot

Wetland Blossoms

If Jack remained inside his room for too long, he was often victim to having his body overcome with an overwhelming pressure. A kind of presence within his blood, pulling at the sinew under his skin and forcing him into a state of irritability, one which he could not account for.
At times such as these, he would stop what he was doing and take a long walk to gather flowers.
He couldn’t recall when he first started doing this, but he knew that when he returned to his house, hands full with fresh picks, he would be cured temporarily.

Jack found himself following the walkway which traced the edge of the creek. He came to life at the shifting gravel under his feet, the loose sediment playing a melody of white noise with every step.
It had been a wet summer, and the heat was late in arriving. Spring felt as if it had doubled in length, and Jack breathed deeply of the moistened air, taking in the fragrances of fresh growth.
The forest across the creek was absorbed in shades of pine and moss, all of the trees being evergreens, and the mangroves owned the banks with complete autonomy. Jack remembered walking through these as a child, coming back cold and covered in sludge, the stench of which was so that it caught like rotten eggs in the back of your throat. Once, a fresh shoot shot right through the bottom of his brother’s foot, coming up between the bone next to his large toe. It didn’t quite pierce all the way through and instead appeared like a tiny hill atop his foot.
These walks were walks of memory. Contemplation of nature and of Jacks own nature. It was his habit to walk the length of his walk, eyeing out potential picks, and then doubling back, confirming those choices. This was in line with how Jack lived his life.
At this time of year, the tuis had flown from the deep inland bush to feed on the flower nectars and the insects which stuffed themselves full of the sweetness of nature’s bounty. Their song was such that Jack found himself whistling back to them. He was envious of their two voice boxes, but he rarely knew what to do with the one he owned.

Jack now turned for home, the compiled list completed.
The tactile sensations of picking were his favourite part, and he would spend a short time with each plant, running his hand along the bark to feel their textures, along the leaves and flowers, gently caressing them with the lightest of touches, and coaxing them to release their distinct aromas.
He first picked a thin stem from a young Manuka tree, with small white blossoms climbing the length, and round woody seed pods scattered about it. Next, he pulled several lots of the long, curved flowers from the Harakeke flax bushes which dominated the walkway. Due to the odd weather, the bushes were in different stages of flowering and he was able to pick from a gradient range of yellows, greens, reds. Lastly, he came to some roadside perennials, blossoming in a rich shade of cherry, streaked with a tangerine and honey centre. Jack could taste the fruits of his labour.

The Ocean Is A Memory

The terrace is encased in trellises covered with grape vines, and troughs filled with herbs lay along the edges. The air is fresh and smells of meals that haven’t been cooked yet.
Rosemary on lamb. Tarragon rubbed chicken. Mushroom fettuccine topped with basil and thyme, and time put into it.
The waiter brings me a long list of drinks, and some bread, no butter.
The sea is to my left and the white canvas sails snap in the breeze, reminding me of the woman who lived on the cobbled streets of Nice, who would hang her washing to dry in the spring heat, snapping the sheets with a whip of her arms, and scolding the children who would run through the tenement yard, but it was their yard, everyone shared, even the baked pastries she would leave as treats near the wash basket, and the children would scrub soiled undergarments and white canvas sheets to earn a warm tart with cream, the only treat they would see, and they would be pleased, running through the yard which they all shared.
Sails will never go out of fashion, even with better and more powerful engines being produced. The sound of a sail catching wind is a signal to men of the sea to meditate and follow the currents of their lives. To catch fish and feed their families, to enjoy the breeze and misery of lost dreams.
I am not a sailor, I have no legs for the decks of damp surroundings, so I eat my bread and think of the woman hanging sheets, and I sail on the winds of my memories imaginings.