Yvonne Chism-Peace
1976. turn from the window, your mind is a scream of streets gone down.
        go down. untangle the bundle of sheets at your feet. group them in three piles: the stained domestic flowers, the absolute whites, the frantic geometric blues. group them. set them down by the washing machine. open the lid and take up the white. place them carefully loose around the center spindle
        so they will not tangle or jolt. a cup of soap, bleach. let no man put asunder. slam down the lid. turn the knob. the cycle begins. your hands perforated with bleach. your hands swollen at the knuckles.
        put a coffee jar on the table. instant coffee. a small prescription pill against high blood pressure. fill a cool aluminum kettle. set it down upon the bluest flame. teaspoon, sugar, take a cheap cup and saucer down from the shelf. go down. into the brothel of your unknown father, your name under his tongue, his hopelessness under your life. we all go down and put asunder. (an obscene phone call) hello who? Mr. Assistant Manager who? oh yes, yes, Mr. Assistant Manager. oh yes, yessssss, Mr. Auditor. Mr. Constable. Mr. Auctioneer. sin is kinky, out-of-doors. sin is the gutter. every house explodes. every hill shall fall.
        an obscene phone call wishing you dead. dead like the virgin hop-scotch whose panties were always clean. dead like the pensioned blacks, shivering on the benches of summer. the rape of you. everybody listening. your children grow unintelligible. preaching where who? how what? dictating how much how little long you sat on the toilet today?
         this flat and neutral hour is sheltering knives. you count your own breathing like a thousand possible betrayals. Beauty. Justice. Family. they all join hands with the worst.they all join hands. this kitchen. this home. we are left. righteous beggars.
        sliding into the dead skins of mothers, swallowing the stone at the bottom of their love. our fathers silent, always silent in our spines. we are left. building from powerlessness and doubt. every over-priced brick

the kettle screams
undisciplined ungrateful
turn it off!
        pour the boiling chemical city water into your breakfast cup. add one teaspoon of coffee, two teaspoons of white fine granulated sugar. it is poison, your daughter had studied. then stir, stir like an overwound kitchen clock. the center spindle jogs, jogs your nights whiter than white. the exhaust fan turns, turns the burnt toast air.
        we all go down. the strivers the crippled the pimps sit down and break bread together. together? is the fear cast out forever? forever? can we bleed like women and be quiet? everybody who looks in the mirror is looking at a fist. something within us never rises. what can we do? something never rises. what can we do?
        "This house is my bread! I've eaten stone,but I still live! I don't need to weep? I don't need to moan? Oh God! It's never Saturday. Give me Saturday. For the first time in my life. Give me the hard-muscled arms of the ordinary. Ordinary arms holding... holding... Just a bit of shame... Oh God, give me what I want!"
         the washing machine jolts to a stop, whirrs a broken sigh.

Yvonne Chism-Peace writes poetry under the pseudonym Yvonne and has completed IWILLA SOIL, IWILLA SCOURGE,and IWILLA RISE (Chameleon Productions Inc. 1985, 1986,1999). She was the poetry editor at MS. magazine (1974-1987) and of Aphra (1971-74). The short story, "The Dusk," was published in The Saint Annšs Review (Fall/Winter,2001). "Aftertaste" has been accepted by Moxie .


In Posse: Potentially, might be ...