Friday, August 09, 2019

John Kaprielian: Selection of poems from The Blue Nib Literary Magazine

Tins of Dust
They say you should change
your spices every year or
they lose potency and aroma
but in the back of my
spice cabinet
behind the cinnamon-sticks
and whole allspice
a few old
faded Anne Page tins sit
with yellowed masking-tape
and slanted blue ball-point
handwritten labels
identifying the gray
scentless dust within

The writing is my mother’s
gone 25 years now
and the spices are
decades past their
best-by date but I can’t
throw them out or even
refill them
like cremains they are sacred
and useless
but when I look at them
I see them sitting in place
in our old pantry
right side, third shelf up
with the other spices
a ragtag mix of bottles, tins and
baby food jars
some labelled only in Armenian
others even more cryptically
in English — a dessicated fish juts
from a jar marked “Bombay Duck”
and potentially magic seeds
lie in a bottle labeled “Keens”

They entranced me then
and fling me back now to
a time when that kitchen was
crowded with people
steaming with flavors
and I would cook with my mother
father or grandmother

The tins are old
the spices ashen
but for conjuring
their potency
is undiminished

Ice Storm

The trees glisten
under the frigid sun
outside you can hear them
groan and crackle under
the weight of ice
layer upon layer laid down
drop by drop until
the burden is almost
too much to bear
but they hide their distress
behind sparkling
luminous facades
like her
radiant eyes belie
bones rimed with years of
anguish and regret
the weight of pain and
sorrow making any action

When the thaw comes
the ice will leave
drop by drop
as it came and the trees
will stand tall and
quiet again but
who or what will
warm her bones and
melt her melancholy?


Entwined we lay
contours aligned like
full length contact
body to body
breathing, pulsing
but not exactly

your freezing feet wedged
between mine
bare skin against
flannel and fleece
the dog taking up
half the bed and
cat pacing the rest
clambering over us

This is middle-age
not furtive stolen kisses
and hidden passions
but flat out, solid love
perfect in imperfection
outstanding in subtlety
an impenetrable heavy
blanket of warmth

I would not trade for
youthful indiscretions
unless they were
with you.

These poems appeared in The Blue Nib Literary Magazine

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