SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: KELLY CRESSIO-MOELLER


Profile b/w scarf – aroho – Version 3



ON WHY I NO LONGER SIT AT THE WINDOW SEAT ON A TRAIN
By Kelly Cressio-Moeller


Germany was like a step-mother: utterly familiar, utterly despised. ~ Erica Jong


It’s a good day for a lie-down, overcast and
wet-wooled – even the rain wants to be horizontal.
I am day-dreaming of goose down when I
enter the train, scoot into an open seat,
press my cheek against the streaked window.
The station’s soothing voice announces,
Zurückbleiben bitte, someone runs in just before
the doors close, slams me against the side
of the compartment, takes a lungful of my air.
In an accent foreign as my own, he asks
my name, if I “want some fun” back
at his room. I buy time before the next stop,
tell him I’m “Whitney from America”
(anything but my real name in his mouth).
Now he locks his arm through mine and thick
fingers jab my ribs. His leg, an anchor –
his pocked face smirks like he’s already
notched his belt.

I imagine the defence move my brother
taught me where I smash my palm heel into
some asshole’s nose, shifting bone into brain.
(Where is my Siegfried in this country of the
“Nibelungenlied”. What would Kriemhild do?)
My eyes ransack the forest of businessmen,
cutpurses, hausfraus, the heroin chic: rows of
enameled faces, cow-dumb, indifferent as teeth.
Let the Ausländer fight it out!

Thigh-grab, elbow-jab, hand-slap – his broken
English splinters the air. Whitney Houston
in my head singing “I Will Always Love You” on
some godforsaken loop as I mentally run through
my list of German imperatives: Hilfe! Polizei!
Vergewaltigung! (a word that takes longer to say
than the act it defines). I backhand him across
the mouth, escape before the doors slam.
He’s waving (waving!) through the glass,
a blurry fat-lipped sneer retreating – the air
staccatoed with rasps of my breath. It begins
to hail marbles (even the gods are throwing stones),
feathers or lightening bolts would feel just the same.

Only later with candlelight und Butterkuchen,
do I re-surface to Vivaldi’s soaring strings on the radio.
I mention my morning combat-commute.
My host shrugs his shoulders before loading
the Meissen with another helping of Schadenfreude.
He says, Da muβ man durch : ‘one must go through it’ –
as if it were a tunnel, something to be run through.



** The line What shall I wish for myself? is a reworking Mary Oliver’s line What shall I wish for, for myself?

Today’s poem originally appeared online in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Issue 1 and appears here today with permission from the poet.


Kelly Cressio-Moeller has new work forthcoming in Radar Poetry and has been previously published at Boxcar Poetry Review, burntdistrict, Crab Orchard Review, Gargoyle, Poet Lore, Southern Humanities Review, THRUSH Poetry Journal, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and ZYZZYVA among others. Her poems have been nominated for three Pushcart Prizes, Best New Poets, and Best of the Net. She is an Associate Editor at Glass Lyre Press. Visit her website at www.kellycressiomoeller.com.

Editor’s Note: During the dark days this November I delved into poetry as a kind of antidote, and in this way I arrived at today’s poem. Incredibly timely, it speaks to an experience that is all too common and far too marginalized. “I moved on her like a bitch,” America’s President-elect said, “I did try and fuck her,” he said, “Grab them by the pussy,” he said; “You can do anything.” And I thought, “anything but my real name in his mouth.” I thought, “even the gods are throwing stones.” I thought this poem. And those who have no idea what this poem is about, those who do not have to regularly question their safety, those who are unsympathetic to this experience– “one must go through it,” those people say. “[A]s if it were a tunnel, something to be run through.”

Want more from Kelly Cressio-Moeller?
Cha: An Asian Literary Journal
Escape into Life
THRUSH Poetry Journal
Tinderbox Poetry Journal
Valparaiso Poetry Review

SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: KELLY CRESSIO-MOELLER

Photo on 2014-12-29 at 18.20_2_2


By Kelly Cressio-Moeller:


ITHAKA

Dear Penelope, do you now sleep among the catacombs?

Scarves of white drift over the Aegean – an altar of bottomless blue.

I have gone to the edge of the world and still cannot find you.

Even the olive trees raise their spangled limbs skyward in longing.

Mother Earth slides her abacus beads, conjures storms quick as curses.

When lightning struck, did the boat protect or beckon the bolt?

Island flowers shut their eyes only when the stars disrobe – hope and sorrow held
within the same root.

She imagines him bright-toothed & swarthy, but her husband is just sunburned & homesick.

So many suitors holding her skeins – she’s woven a trail for her waylaid mariner, long
as his beard and her undoing.

In twenty years she has never asked, What shall I wish for myself?

Odysseus wonders, Do I have the right to return?

Maids cast offerings to the sea: red rose petals and grape leaves, love and wine all that remain.


** The line What shall I wish for myself? is a reworking Mary Oliver’s line What shall I wish for, for myself?


Today’s poem was originally published in Thrush Poetry Journal and appears here with permission from the poet.


Kelly Cressio-Moeller’s poetry is forthcoming in burntdistrict and has previously appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Gargoyle, Poet Lore, Rattle, Spillway, ZYZZYVA and elsewhere as well as the anthology First Water: Best of Pirene’s Fountain and Diane Lockward’s book, The Crafty Poet. Three of her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She shares her fully-caffeinated life with her tall husband, two ever-growing sons, and their immortal basset hound in Northern California.

Editor’s Note: “Ithaka” exists in the eye of the storm of the epic. Address and persona are interwoven with the personal, the poet’s experience becoming one with Penelope’s need and Odysseus’ long journey home. Against the backdrop of the familiar, we find ourselves adrift on a sea of the unexpected, where lyricism is heroic and longing is complex. Similes and metaphors are seamlessly stitched into the poem’s fabric: limbs are spangled, clouds are “scarves of white,” the ocean is an altar. When the poet enters, the simple is made profound: “I have gone to the edge of the world and still cannot find you.” When we arrive, the shores are shaped like questions: “Do I have the right to return?” “What shall I wish for myself?

Want more from Kelly Cressio-Moeller?
Boxcar Poetry Review
Cultural Weekly
Escape Into Life
Rattle
Valparaiso Poetry Review