Sunday, April 13, 2008

Exile Valise

I'm packing my exile valise,
cut from an indigo rug
and starred with appliques,
stitched with gold and silver thread.
In it, my yellow sweater,
still redolent of salmon roe,
the Bakelite radio I played as a child,
a mirror in which I've watched myself
age. I'm taking a sketchbook,
two fly rods, a Scout knife
for mumblety-peg, a disc of Sonny Rollins
playing "How are Things in Glocca Morra?,"
blue bottles to hang in the trees,
I have a cane for my gout-foot,
goat-foot, (bad-foot that twitches
when acid swells along the nerve),
a broken compass, unsure of true north.
I've pushed a carnation
through my ragged lapel, include
cut glass from an old chandelier,
because I admire its work with sunlight--
how light becomes one thing,
then another,-- a few milky opals
to trade along the way.
If they say, How pitiful he looks!
If they say, Oh, how a mighty has fallen!
Fear not. I go with Tobit's sweet dog
and the Angel Raphael,
have Sibley's Book of Birds and a field guide
to the stars, with which I find the Swan,
great wings flapping in the northern sky.
I hoist my valise across my back
and dance a staggered samba,
sing Shang a-lang a-lang
in my Midwestern tongue-- call it
tinkered brass-- it is at least
a voice that I have. I'm coming to live
in a house near the inland sea,
turn on your porch light, bang
your spoon against your copper pans
to guide me home, I'm dancing
this way and that so my ears catch the sound,
I look back and the sweet dog moans,
but my angel, running ahead,
calls, Come on, come on.

-- by Greg Rappleye

Figured Dark (University of Arkansas Press, 2007)


Talia Reed said...

Wonderful, isn't he?

sam of the ten thousand things said...

An excellent poem.

Suzanne said...

Talia, I'm smitten.

And yes, Sam, it's one to read again and again and again.

Unknown said...


Hey, thanks for posting this, and for your kind words.

All the best,

Greg Rappleye

Suzanne said...

My pleasure, Greg!