A collection of poetry
by Patricia Wellingham-Jones
from Mongolian Art Exhibit
I turn a corner, stunned now by faces /
on the wall—masks of deities, shamans, /
in papier-mâché, carved wood, stuffed skin. /
Black brows pull down over glaring eyes, /
red mouths stretch in snarls or gentle smiles.
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8. The Surrealist Body
With apologies to André Breton
My body with its hair of wild rice and ice storms
Its hair that unfurls from a pirate’s mast
Its thoughts encased in amber that breathes like a membrane
topped off with a fez of forgetfulness
My body with its waist of secret code
Its laughingstock waist, an hourglass gone haywire
where time sifts dizzily backwards
My body with its mouth full of men’s names chewed to ribbons
My body with a tongue of plague and cholera
With its tongue a locked suitcase
With teeth infiltrated by elderly Japanese spies
My body with temples of sparks and götterdämmerung
With a brain where my Muse loafs defiantly in her bathrobe
My body with shoulders of avalanches and wingbuds
My body with fingers of stuttering lightning
With fingers like bridges to nowhere
With arms of wild regattas and crumbling caryatids
My body with legs of thunderous diminuendos
moving like Laurel and Hardy with tarantulas in their trousers
My body with feet of ugly stepsisters and bunioned glass slippers
With tortoiseshell feet, with feet of broken English
My body with its morose left breast full of sour milk and curdled blood
My body with its Frankenstein breasts caressed by surgeons’ knives
Its breasts of subterranean secrets and unknown rendezvous
My body with its belly like a brioche that feeds multitudes
Its belly of neon and cymbals
My body with its back of Roman ruins
With its back a down escalator to the earth’s chaotic core
With its letter bomb back
My body with its hips of tomahawks
Its boxing ring hips where the palooka’s trunks catch fire
My body with its buttocks of Alaskan waterfalls
My body with its buttocks of cruel and unusual punishment
My body with its potentate buttocks
My body with its sex of paper
My body with its sex turned inside out
My body with its recluse sex, peeking out from behind her veils
My body with its eyes like opals in mayonnaise
Its eyes of bat caves and collapsing stars
My body with its eyes still too nearsighted to see
the next world being built beyond my bones
9. Cancer Diary
Slash and burn.
Lay down and fry.
Poison the whole damn hen house
on account of one sick chick.
Search and destroy.
Grip, slit, rip and stitch.
Point, click and sizzle.
Blackened toenails and a rotten nipple.
Paging Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine,
Dick Tracy meets Cueball
for a demolition derby in your blood count.
One day they finally turn off the juice
and serve you up cured like a ham.
You unfurl your crumpled-up dignity
and hit the road like Lot’s wife.
Don’t look back. Don’t look ahead.
Just untangle yourself from your mother’s shroud
and run war-whooping into the light.
Pamela Miller has published three books of poetry, most recently Recipe for Disaster (Mayapple Press, 2003). She has won three Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards for poetry, first prize in the Feminist Writers Guild poetry contest and first prize in ChicagoPoetry.com’s Frieda Stein Fenster Memorial Awards. She has also received three Pushcart Prize nominations. Her work has appeared in many literary magazines and anthologies, including The Paris Review, Free Lunch, Primavera, Pudding, After Hours, Wicked Alice, Moon Journal, The MacGuffin, Dangerous Dames, Women and Death and Inhabiting the Body. She makes her living as a magazine editor in Chicago.