Kristin LaTour – poems
1. Items Valuable to a Dying Man (with audio by the author and Nic Sebastian)
…. – Still image remix by Nic Sebastian
2. To My Friend who Pets Bees in Her Garden (with audio by the author)
3. Life in a Fifth Grade Diorama (with audio by the author)
4. Littoral (with audio by the author)
…. – Video remix by Othniel Smith
5. This Long Winter (with audio by the author and Jonathan Lu)
…. – Video remix by Nic Sebastian
Items Valuable to a Dying Man
(Read by Kristin LaTour)
(Read by Nic Sebastian)
download audioHe requires edges: of sheets of white paper,
steel serrated knives, or granite cliff faces
when he awakens from a cold night’s sleep.
His fingers twitch as they release the hand
of a featherhaired child who led him through
the burning dreamland of his youth, all
the lives he touched and destroyed.
Give him cream without coffee then,
swirled with the syrupy berries of regret
since his eyes are also rippled with pink.
Pour it into a white demitasse cup, placed
on a cracked saucer so it reminds him
of the smallness of time and the precariousness
of trying to accomplish even simple things, like a sip.
He will want to look at something stable, say
a still life of a possum or armadillo, dead
on the side of a dirt road edged with creosote.
It reminds him of what he once knew as truth:
God created the fish of the sea, the birds in the air
and all the animals on land to die, but not Man.
He wanted Man to live. At this, he may imagine a photo
from his wedding day and curse his wife, but lovingly,
without regret. The man will not want visitors
as he falls back into his pillow, moangasping
and dribbling spittle. Let him be as his bones settle
amongst his skin, the cartilage and sinew like
his long-gone hound’s rawhide chew toys. He needs only
that child’s smooth fingers again, the light of the fire
burning his past to ashes and charcoal, his
rattling breath to jaggedly slow, cease, move on.
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To My Friend who Pets Bees in Her Garden
after seeing Paul Stankard’s Honeybee Swarming a Floral Hive Cluster
(Read by Ruth Foley)
Be happy they are encased in glass—
clearly if you tried to touch them
a sweet sting would tell it true:
honey is sacred and their buzz
is a song of golden gods.
It’s true that the flowers seldom grow
so close to a hive, but listen, the blue
of their petals protects from the sun
or rain, catching drops before
they hit the comb. You wonder
about symbol and metaphor—the glass
sphere, the number of bees, nineteen,
the way they all seem to fly north, then east.
Each bee made of at least fifteen drops
of glass, each hexagon precise and paper-thin.
Stop counting, I tell you. Have faith.
You say it is sand, but no. This
time, it’s honey.
(First published in Cider Press Review)
back to top
Life in a Fifth Grade Diorama
(Read by Kristin LaTour)
download audioI want to break the fourth wall,
come crashing into real life
falling from the table top onto soft shag.
Instead, I stay here in a half-ass version of history
with dyed green pine shavings underfoot
and blue acrylic sky with cotton ball clouds.
I think I am a farmer or maybe
a father looking for his child.
Behind me is a drawn log cabin
with grey crayon smoke curling up from the chimney.
There’s a gun in my hand, but it’s pointing at
nothing in particular.
I can see a cardboard table with four misshapen legs
topped with what might be a bowl of soup,
a grenade or an acorn.
I wish I had a mirror so I could tell
what my role is,
know what I’m supposed to represent;
yesterday I was a soldier in the jungles of Vietnam,
and tomorrow I hope to be back with my comrades
and not be so out in the open, obsessed
with the smell of poltergeists, waiting for the radio’s address.
(First published in Fifth Wednesday)
She lay on that rock
buoyed by life and the warm sea.
Her rounded breasts fell
to each side of her ribcage;
her arms reached down
to let her fingers play in the water.
I could not see her face,
turned as it was from mine,
but her hair, her hair
was what I wanted:
long as my leg,
curly as the chips that fall
from the boat maker’s plane,
brown as the wood planks
that shine on the deck.
I wanted to wrap my fingers
in the mass like fish hiding in coral.
I wanted to bury my face
in her neck and smell the salt sea.
and when he said quiet
he meant the silence that lives between lathe and plaster
the snow falling on the pines
and the nest left bare and dangling
her lips stained with wine
his hand clenching the fork
what she meant by feed
what he meant by full
the darkness sliding over the table
candles not lit and the light burned out
her muffled breath
his pursed lips
Video process notes can be be read here.
Kristin LaTour’s most recent chapbook is Agoraphobia, from Dancing Girl Press (2013), as well as two others: Blood (Naked Mannequin Press 2009) and Town Limits (Pudding House Press 2007). Her poetry has appeared in journals such as Fifth Wednesday, Cider Press, After Hours, dirtcakes, qarrstiluni, and The Adroit Journal. She teaches at Joliet Jr. College and lives in Aurora, IL with her writer husband, a lovebird, and two dogitos. Readers can find more information at http://www.kristinlatour.com.