Five Poems
Cat Richardson

I Have Things To Do

A noise next to my bed -- predawn invasive.
Sleep terror, lifting gut to head and hammering back
hard. What beastie, what bomb in my wall.
What will nip my earlobe
the second I list out of wake.

A slow dance -- if I leave the bed, it is real. If
I do not leave the bed, it is real. The floor
is lava. The floor is the sky. Is cold on my feet.

The noise again: mirror-tap in a loose frame. Fingernail
of someone plastered into the wall.
Are my retinas detaching. Is an aneurysm
about to burp its way through the barrier. Dear oh dear
this bed is too big. It is an island off which my limbs
mustn't -- claws waiting under the bed. Am I
25 or is light beginning to rim the opaque blinds.

Four Auguries

The light is nothing but November,
and all day I've been followed
through empty rooms by a paper mouse,
its tail trailing a line in the dust.
At the close, it vanishes and I hear
it stirring in the walls.

The floorboards
creak to each other, stop
abruptly when I pause to listen.

In two centuries, if I were patient,
the glass would finish its syrup
descent in the window frame.

There is a message and it needles me.
If I can only swallow my tongue,
it will digest down to answers --
I will wake in the wrong bed,
its paper sheets, dust pillows,
my stomach full of honey-glass.

The Subway Pole

A part of me loves it,
says: come on contagion,
bring me microbes unknown.
Let them feast and conquer,
let their armies blood the water,
throw dice in the down hours.

King Prokaryote,
your lovely daughters
are in my lungs:
Listeria, Rubella,
Borrelia, and Treponima.
Dowry them with lymph and rich aminos,
with fields of Golgi and herds
of hemoglobes.

Ruin yourselves on me.
Build palaces in my stomach,
but know that when
you've reached too far, I will destroy them
with a fevered shudder. You will know
the time has come, fat King,
that you will go down with my body
so brace against me,
and fall to the ground
in awe-filled blooms.

You Are Invited

To document your performances on our pages.
Outside our circles, luminarious nonsense
edges closer. Take your intravenous lecture
in the City of Twist. Do not suspect
the imps -- they are, simply, a group
exhibition. More suspect, their performance,
its double reverse, and their patron
the Prince of Ethersketch.

What a cinematic installation!
The Prince's imps creep closer to your keywords.
They will collect. They always do.
To avoid this conflict, you are invited to contribute.
Yes, please volunteer. We do not wish
to squeeze the lemons in your eye.

Lamps in Every Corner

Coffee beans stirring in the bottom of a bag
is the sound of you in the morning.

I am a shop of wind-up toys.
They are made of painted tin
and their eyes follow feet passing
on the sidewalk as they ping.

You are scratches in the background
as the record player spins out,
and this room is green
made for sinking into.

You are the velvet of speaking Russian.
Please put your books on the shelf.