Like That

by Kitty Jospé

“It’s a small world, but it’s compartmentalized.”
––Doug Prince
Like That

I had wallpaper like that
in my bedroom. 

I knew the world, like that
mapped out into colorful
countries, continents.

I missed the headline like that
one about the personal
messages on those M107s

and had to look up, like that
just what they looked like1, 
and what a Howitzer is

and sure, a cryptic poem like that
is totally reasonable in its
disputatious critique
with shadows of pure 
reason waving Kantian
flags from the three
transcendental ideas—
the thinking subject, 
the world as a whole, 
and a being of all beings—

and I learn that Venmo, like that,
is a verb for convenient
transactions and I look
up the etymology of
motherfucker to check
on progress2 , 

I mean, some meaning, like that
world peace thrown in those roses.



Could we ever hear the harmony?

Look up at the sky, see how the wind
has created a city of whorls in clouds.  
A marvel, like staves for music
 to embroider a vision of nevertheless

despite disheartening news: drought,
wildfires, bombastic broadcasts brought
of wars, want, clashes between classes,
cultures, horrors we have wrought.

I look up in the sky, to witness skyscrapers 
made of mist wound into mirrors 
made of wind, dust, and work my tongue,
press it on the roof of the mouth, 

my teeth vibrate as they strum the lower lip, 
	and now the tongue again
against the teeth, 
		   the and a curled 
lick of an l, an expiration of s		

Nevertheless, as plea, for there to be music
of the spheres, and souls that exist
to perceive it so we can carry on in kindness 
remembering something of whatever good.

And what if my grandmother had given my mother 

parakeets for a birthday present when she was 18? 
Maybe that would have changed everything about
1943 weighing down on my grandparents.
Imagine the freedom of blue and yellow
ribbons of flight, perches on curtain rods,
cupboards in the kitchen.  Imagine, being
free to make your life what you will
and a present of birds to show how to fly, 
how to let go and find your own way.

And what if my mother, who instinctively
knew about parakeets, had been able 
to carry on this legacy, and instead
of her unintended descent into hell
had gifted my sister two parakeets?
What if she had had the birds for herself?

How is it if when you listen to the stories, 
the lessons my sister recalls from my father
and listen to mine, it sure sounds like 
two different fathers… and her version 
of growing up, feeling disadvantaged, 
and mine, growing up loving the crazy
idea of flying out of the ordinary...
you’d think we lived in two totally 
different cities and circumstances.  

How different our choices of habits, hang-ups,
husbands… even happiness seems to have a 
different definition.

I wonder what might have happened had 
we had this idea of a gift of parakeets
coloring the history of our family? 

**This poem is dedicated to David Delaney 

(from augustu:   consecrated, venerable)

Awful heat... and I think of crooning
sympathy, the gesture of touch
words try to make to wrap
someone else's misery in silk...
as in a burst of wind,
perhaps a Norse nautical term
for a sudden squall 
and the dictionary will provide
associations with alchemy, 
confound, confuse, chyle
and chyme.
		Aug as in the sharp 
point of an auger, or divination 
of augur, similar in sound,
boring into the us of being,
and our human refusal to 
weave our common concerns
with a final tutting
cross of a T.

Perhaps a fallacy to think
a different name 
for the month which follows
those dog days of July.3  
Could it change the list
of despots, emperors,
anything that should be
venerable but isn't...?

Imagine August as
Awe with a sense of entrust,
as we exhaust our planet,
face the disgust 
of all we have turned
to dust, drunk as bees
in lavendar with no thought
of honey. 

3Ancient Greeks noticed that Sirus—which they dubbed the “dog star” as it is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major—appears to rise alongside the sun in late July. They believed the combined power of the stars is what made this the hottest time of year.

	will often be what some wish to be,
no food, no water... no work that makes
them glad, and I have yet to see
sorrow wash marvelously. What makes
tears?  They may wring out grief,
but cares and joys are not brief.

Dead, a word we dread, forced to use
about life on our earth, our ability to care
for the living.  We'll always sing the blues
about war, love lost, dreams where we dare
to dream of waters blown to laughter.
But we have pushed selfish wants too far
without care for all.  The door is ajar.
Do you go in? How will you find the hereafter?

-- Poem inspired by The Dead by Rupert Brooke


Kitty Jospé: retired French teacher, active docent, received her MFA in poetry (2009 Pacific University, OR).  Since 2008, she has been leading workshops on art and word, and moderates weekly sessions to help people to be more attentive and appreciative readers of good poems.  At Rundel, come to Poetry Oasis for discussion of good poems every Thursday at noon.

Latest book: Sum:1 March 2021