Absences

FJ Bergmann

a.  The lives of tiny people whose injuries bleed
  unseen sift quietly out of our exciting history
  into the murky zone of revisionism.

b.  All day long until dinnertime the axe ate trees,
  ignoring the heartwood’s plaintive questions,
  leaving a jackstraw ziggurat of logs praying for fire.

c.  She felt her quivering heart tug away from him,
  exultant pulse like the engine of one last train jerking
  its rails tightly behind it toward the horizon.

d.  A vexatious hole near the porch gapes in amazement,
  like a religious statue taken aback to notice that its fine jewels,
  as well as ornaments of a lesser quality, are missing.

e.  It is an axiom that a dying brain cannot think of anything
  but quaint trivia; attrition starts to gnaw it apart, an injury
  dizzily flitting from now toward the distant past.

f.  All over the planet there are holes shaped like quagga, oryx,
  dodoes. The large holes (brontosaurs, whales) hold successively
  smaller holes: extinct lizards, bugs, viruses, junk like that.

g.  The exquisite delusions of jazz lament above bloody shards
  on the pavement outside a bar in what was once a factory
  so empty you can’t tell what they used to make.

h.  It found a break in a zone aquifer, a place to conceal itself
  extremely well. Its benign and jovial acquaintances felt
  uneasy, but never noticed its disappearance.

i.  Only you know what may be absent from your frozen heart.
  You can leave the door of the queer closet ajar, relax or rush
  around the clock, and never guess what that gap once held.

j.  Behind his eyes, something weird and unsavory winked out.
  He never quite admitted missing that part of his existence,
  like a child’s fuzzy blanket infested with plague lice.

k.  The farmer who spent his life moving blades
  of grass from one damn place to another said he just quit
  expecting anything decent in this crazy country.

l.  Spongecake and other desserts we enjoy depend on frequent
  interstices, expanding air, something to give the big effect,
  greater size. Even ice cream uses this trick. May I have more?

m.  Vainly he fired the bazooka until there were no shells left.
  In the jittery, ringing silence which followed his panicked
  outburst, he quietly executed himself.

n.  Tulips, daffodils, roses, violets, jewelweed: a crazy-quilt
  of all colors except blue. Poppies from the jagged Himalayas
  mirror the sky, but grow elsewhere, far away.

o.  They excavated deeply, revealing a unique basilisk, its femur
  etched with jawmarks signifying an ancient frenzy, an unlikely
  presence in the man-eaten parade. Its skull was missing.

p.  The good stuff never vanished unless he was there at work.
  They finally asked him to quit. It seemed like a bizarre jinx
  until it recurred in his new job as a vacuum salesman.

q.  Abstracting small valuable items had always diverted him,
  but the cream of the jest was finding the missing trinkets
  under a fez, and the poleaxed look on the face of the victim.

r.  With a machete they attacked the tangled jungle foliage
  until they had excavated enough space to tango jubilantly
  to the quaint melodies of a zydeco band.

s.  A quandary: product needed for war; machine cannot operate
  without raw material; zinc cannot be obtained in wartime.
  No victory. The jukebox played a forgettable patriotic hymn.

t.  Her appearance deceives an onlooker who assumes some
  sexy babe lives behind her kinky mask, given sequins, jiggling
  cleavage, whip, harness, fur, her immersion in a porn magazine.

u.  He had a habit of lazily spitting – expectorating, he called it,
  minding his p’s and q’s – through the black maw of a lost tooth.
  He chewed venison or beef jerky instead of tobacco.

v.  Encouraged by silence, which she interpreted as jealous
  admiration, she continued to play the zither, while hordes
  of queasy folk-music fans staggered toward the back exit.

w.  She quit her day job substitute-teaching. She feared
  roll call, children missing; visualized hazy x-rated scenarios:
  kids abused, tortured. ‘Not Present’ equals ‘Dead.’

x.  At last no longer a virgin, he spent all night
  jitterbugging squeamishly under the ginkgoes until dawn
  cheerfully filled the sky’s azure bowl.

y.  The azimuth flung its excruciating distance
  against the void’s equator-ribboned petticoat.
  The ocean was a bucket of vibrating blue-green Jell-O.

z.  There was a perfectly good extra universe next door;
  quite satisfactory as an adjunct to this one in spite of
  our dark qualms. We began to abandon this one.