in the third box or
maybe in the fourth
or with hands included
and sad, swollen feet
and a face that casts no shadow
nor silhouette of limbs
but only the voices of trees
alive with their greening
luring always luring
beckoning with their branches
and their sweet rustling voices
but they don’t tell their secrets
that's left for us to figure out
a chorus of foliage (outside the box)
(inspired by the Czech film Valerie and Her Week of Wonders)
sweet coquette, ripe with blood and berries
flowers stained with the puzzle of the future
she watches the actors and eagles from her balcony
and the missionaries who behave in unexpected ways
but something’s rotten in Czechoslovakia!
her suitor is her brother, at least until he isn't
pale Grandma is cousin (or maybe she’s Mother)
and like everyone else she wants the earrings
teeth of the vampire against virgin shoulders
blood always the explanation we are given
priests and thieves and plague-ridden fowl
either the masks they wear or hidden behind those masks
yes, Valerie, the grown-up world is all flesh and cruelty
there's nothing to do but to sleep long and deep in the lonely forest
the best board games give you unexpected choices
sometimes a thimble and sometimes a hat
and sometimes paths you have to choose between
even when you don’t have a clue
sometimes you have to roll a die to find out how far you can go
and then you have to worry about landing in jail
or you may have to roll again
and then you might find some sweets along the way
as you get ready to slide down a chute or climb a ladder
but does it hurt the donkey when its tail gets pinned?
only if no one says "I'm sorry"
or has to go under the dreaded knife
and sometimes you have to pick a card to decide your fate
the board game of life is an uncertain tally
How many poems can you write in a year?
Probably no more than one or two that contain the word "osprey."
And there are other birds that should never be mentioned.
And sometimes there are poems that use exactly the same words.
Redundancy is allowed when you’re trying to EMPHASIZE.
And of course the words on the page can always be re-arranged.
Or erased and then patched together again.
Allowing the meaning to hide deeper, almost out of sight.
But the subtext is clear, even through the faint lines.
Although sometimes we think we are seeing something else.
All of life open to interpretation.
And of course sometimes things have no meaning at all.
So it’s up to the poets to tell us what we saw.
Even if it's only a bear waking from a dream.
The kinds of money they accumulated included colors and lizards and adverbs.
Their wealth was based on the laws of nature.
It was extremely difficult to count.
The stock market rose and fell depending on the weather.
And even adding a comma could change its direction.
Everyone went broke due to shifts in punctuation.
Or grew rich with the changing colors of the autumn leaves.
The middle class was gone with the wind.
They had barely a lizard to call their own.
And no bulls in this bear market.
But the bears continued to be amused by the colors and the adverbs.
And all the other shiny objects in their path.
Objects that reflected their own puzzled faces.
Like mirrors and windows and wine glasses.
Collaborations by Cindy Hochman and Bob Heman have appeared in Otoliths, Unlikely Stories, Mannequin Haus, Have Your Chill, Clockwise Cat, and Live Mag! These poems are contained in the collaborative chapbook The Number 5 Is Always Suspect, which was published this year by Presa Press.