JIM ZOLA

 

Voudoun Tale

A man sits down to a table and explodes.
Bits of him float from the ceiling covering
his family like feathers, spicing their food.

In Haitian there are twenty-seven words
for fire and none for snow. The undead walk
through coals and donít leave footprints. They work
the cane harvest for no pay. Itís difficult
to tell who is who in the fields.

I put sugar in my coffee and wait for my heart
to race, ready to confess all my sins
to no one. An empty house has no ears.
I write fire on paper twenty-seven times
and feel the heat. My scalp snows my shoulders.
I have wasted my life.

How many times have I attempted to leave?
I sit in my car, listen to Blues For Pablo
hissing somewhere almost beyond the radioís
reach. Once I got as far as New Orleans
where a loony nag on Magazine Street
told me my eyes were not right then asked
for a dollar. I had two.

Three times I think. The rest of the time,
I drift like feathers from the ceiling.
I love a woman I do not know. I write snow,
it turns to fire. I know a woman I do not love.
Footprints and shadows.

This is no tale familiar. This is not
the story of my life. A poet sits
at the table and explodes. There is no
family to notice. Or not notice.
The room slowly fills with silence. With this.


Winning poem, First Annual Interboard Poetry Competition, or IBPC