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Poem of the Day

Butternuts

Matthew Welton

The girl who smelled like bubblegum admired the sky.
The telephone rang loudly. Moss grew on the roof.
The neighbours from across the lake would straggle by
for parties in the winter. Pairs of girls would goof

around the gardens where the paths were pebbled green.
The gummy girl would hardly talk. The night it rained
she danced a hula, fingering a tangerine.
She showed her teeth. The sky is faultless , she explained.

*

The drunken uncles glooped around the garden-house
then went indoors and offered round their loose cigarettes
and hammered out some practice-piece and sang like cows.
The grey canary-gulls, they said, they kept as pets.

At night the smell of apricot would drowse the rooms.
But now the radio comes on and plays some march
with scrawly cellos, gasps of organ, piles of drums.
The trays of seedlings flourish in the kitchen porch.

*

All night they talked of breakfast. When the morning came
they cut the meat which tasted more like swedes, or beer.
The bony man with monkey-teeth was blue as blame,
as caned as custard, juiced as jellied-eels. But here

the air takes on a taste of kaolin, or yeast,
or starch, or lemon-leaf. The evenings drop like plums.
As spruced as sprouts. As waxed as wasps. Completely spliced.
The breezes soften. Rain comes down. The heating hums.

*

The upstairs smelled of biro ink. The kitchen smelled
like rained-on wool. The gardens smelled like boiling milk.
The wind that blew blew slowly, and the circuits failed.
The rug was rashed with sun. The dark-faced girl would walk

about the bright and rainy streets. She peeled a pear.
The cousins in the kitchen played their reel of tape:
an hour's recorded silence. Shirts hung on a chair.
The sky was deep, and soft. The sky was chocolate soup.

*

The clouds collapse like coals. The sausage-dog that ate
the pears collapses by the trees, then comes inside.
The phone rang loudly. Papers blackened in the grate.
She answered Yes. A moment, please - and walked outside

and swam around the lake. The gardens smelled like tin.
A smudge of sun, a whiff of wind; the rain that falls
falls early in the day. The afternoon wears in.
The shadow shifts in sheets, and daylight blues the walls.
Taken from 'New Poetries II'...
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