Issue 5

J.T. Welsch
Four Poems

The Mirror Stage

There I am, Lord Leighton’s
Flaming June, blu-tacked
at the foot of the bed, a trick
of perspective in the fuzzy,

Pre-Raphaelite light of dawn.
Back from where our toes meet,
urged by the kiss in every crease
of that eponymous silk flame,

I expand into thighs drawn up
toward such a torso. More than
the obvious spill of hair, I feel
sea air moving over my arms

and my jaw from a window
not behind my dreaming head.
Nothing completely breaks the
spell. I choose to remain hopeful.

A Rejection of Marriage

The earliest memory you’re ready to share
is pretending to sleep in the pram.
The moral in this is obscure,
though I’m sure it has one,
as surely as the rejection of marriage
by all those doctors in your French novels,
each called to some higher calling or other.

Only The Wood Demon comes
to my poorly-read mind. As surely as it leads
to marriage, I was going to say.
It isn’t true. What actually happens
is just what you’d expect. Don’t laugh!
Even if you suffered Earth alone
for four months, pre-widowed infant,

twenty-seven years estranged, we both
happened to be five once, little bunny.
You had a fat face and an already
haunting stare for the disaster at the far end
of your mother’s camera. I recall none
of your other early habits now,
but I should learn to trust my notes.


Yes, it’s cutbacks time. This winter,
the planet is in brilliant recession.
Contemptible new lines of sight are
daily being opened up and up and up
for sinners in the hands of an angry Dow.

No one’s buying any solution back home.
No one will see the copse for the corpses.
When they cleared along the mill path,
my own gut-of-guts’ reaction was that
we shouldn’t see our house from here.

The sign calls coppicing an ancient art,
but that doesn’t make it common sense.
Cutting back to help grow? Admit it,
invisible hand: Diversity’s a hard sell.
If nothing else, who’s your target audience?

If it were natural, the argument goes,
Miss Nature would regulate herself.
But nature isn’t rational, not like a soul!
So, we’ll wager the organic, working body
against an otherwise uninsured salvation:

A penny saved qua a penny earned.
Substitute your paper currency of choice.
You don’t understand: It’s in my blood.
My forefathers and foremothers robbed
Indian graves to get through their winter.

So what if the Mayflower is a barn in
“Buckinghamshire”? Recycling’s cheap.
Cut the canopy, let the underwood breathe.
God can whip up a zillion new trees.
I’ll bet none of them come with poems.

The Vine

One thought is the white vine
in the shed, by which we’re both
quite spooked. The bramble
that appeared out front last week
took our heaviest knife,

but still posed less a threat
than this anemic freak, maybe
since she hadn’t said a thing
before it had turned the corner behind
the luggage and started up the wall.

The metaphor was too obvious, initially.
Vines? I turned to Dionysus’
double-birth, hoping that might tie it
to Caravaggio’s early portrait
where he comes across so sickly himself.

But there was nothing in the reference
to relieve the sense of intrusion
and inevitability as it continues to climb,
against all decency, nothing
to ally us again on any terms but fear.