‘o-o-o-open’ & ‘the devil’s in the details’ by Ramona L. Elke

soft cartel april 2018


This vacancy sign in my heart flashes like a lover’s questioning eyes
at closing time –
hopeful and desperate
for any and all contact;
need for release into unnamed desires and longing so profound
you could taste them.

It flashes:
the “o” flickering, uncertainly…
trying to decide if it wants to be a pen
or open
or turned off like shaking hands
in back seats of cars in parking lots
as the crowds file home to sleep off the night.

This vacancy sign attracts moths, too –
flying too close to the bug zapper;
falling to their death in noisy conclusions,
scattered on the floor like a crime scene.

That’s how it is in my vacant heart:
no one gets out alive
or whole.
It’s all electricity
in pops and zaps and little explosions
bringing endless, tiny deaths.

But that’s good, right?
Clean out the riff-raff,
the hangers-on,
so that something better comes along
to see that vacancy sign beckoning to the pilgrims in the dark.

the devil’s in the details

It’s unfinished –
like someone got up from the table and left a half-eaten meal,
or left the puzzle with two pieces in their pocket,
with old receipts, or unused tickets, or lint.

There was forward motion propelling things –
maybe not us, maybe not you, but things –
forward to some predetermined finish line that must have faded or become invisible
or cancelled itself in the crossing
because it’s not there now.
I am still moving forward toward the finish line but it’s gone.

There is something incomplete in the way we faded out
to an ending or a conclusion that was inconclusive –
like so many scenes started,
doors opened,
and abandoned because the openness, somehow, became too much to hold
so they were just left lying there,
naked and hopeful,
bleeding possibility all over the place
until it faded into some kind of nothingness
that sounded like a question mark.

Ramona L. Elke is a poet, playwright, and a student of belly dance who pays her bills with her skills as a history teacher/substance use counselor/poetry teacher to defiant adolescents in a small-town, British Columbia high school.  She has been practicing her poetry writing since the tender age of six years, when she was first published as the runner up in a Mother’s Day poem contest.  She has been published in the 2016 and 2017 Poetry Marathon Anthologies.  She also has a collection titled The Reluctant Daughter available on amazon.com.

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