Monique Zamir

Spotlight: We Breathe Through Harmonicas and Four More Poems

We Breathe Through Harmonicas

The anarchists must be somewhere says
the orange man in the sun hat.

He chews his blade of grass. The cringe
of grass in his teeth, his sunflower seed mouth: I have
trouble breathing. His Betelgeuse eyes bore
through me and my eyes retreat to my tongue. I cradle
my harmonica, already finger-worn and tired.

I hum through my harmonica. He doesn’t understand.
I hum louder. His eyes so transparent I see
through the iris, retina. He smiles, louder,
he says, breathe louder

hum louder, the harmonica overwhelms wind,
his dusted voice, my lone brass breath.
The orange man hums
                                           The anarchists are everywhere.

The Revelers Should Have Died

My ears hover above my head, then waver down
to the soft dirt: on with the picking
fingers, the tapping foot. Bone-deep bass
caresses my spine and you
I bathe my ears in measured breaths—
dissonant, melodic. A trumpet
swings a hypnotic tune. With each bend
of the trumpeter’s back your voice
perspires a bit more. My
fingers reach over—
on the solitary half-note. The song
meanders in my hands. We dance in
burgundy, your hair dull with wine,
the cat drunk off your blue breath.

Two Poets Meet in a Confluence of Echoing Songs

Take it back my little vertebrae. My nightmares of stairways and powdered faces always moving,
++++++your lips always brooding the banister to its essence: the moving faces, the withered
++++++++++++stairway. I can’t breathe these days, I’ve been eating at the sun for way too long
++++++++++++++++++I exhale sun spots in silhouettes emit smoke from my dust lips, I
take it back. My fingernails peel my livelihood away I dream I live underwater play
++++++my guitar for the sea anemones, they sting my back. In the dry ocean
++++++++++++breeze I hear the sound of a single pelican that lonely breeze redolent
++++++++++++++++++of wilted raspberries in moonlight trumpet in firelight I burn in orange
I take it back all those years I swallowed you whole my breath
++++++burns like dry ice salt in my eyes and your tongue a river of caterpillars in my esophagus.
++++++++++++I never heard the sheen of your voice till it was gone, I listen now as I make this roux,
++++++++++++++++++as I bathe in rice water to absorb the ubiquity of you, my darling palimpsest,
take it back. This time of year the salamander crossing obstructs my tongue—in the winter, I am
++++++silent. The salamander in my breath, the spring in the salamander’s breath, it’s all so familiar,
++++++++++++the sting of it in the moonlight, redolent of you, my darling salamander. I
++++++++++++++++++lose you daily, caraway seeds drip from the ceiling, your lips dripping, say
take nothing back. My watch slowly melts onto my arm, and my arm slowly melts onto
++++++your lips. The world becomes amorphous. Let’s leave time out of this, I hear you
++++++++++++say, the toad, also melting, the baker kneading, always with floured hands and nose.
++++++++++++++++++The always of the baker’s face, the bread of her fingers, the need—that smell.
++++++++++++++++++++++++The dough says take nothing back, your lips
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++barely moving.

The red sky leaves no room for sorrow

The sting, the sweet viscosity of raw
honey, with dates and black coffee beachside,
pits in sand; the sky runs red leaves, night is
replete with sea revelers dancing in dark
reed, with drums. There is no moon tonight.

An elder plays this mandolin, I smile, you are the
grandfather I don’t remember. Fingers vibrato: bronze,
worn strings, in darkness his rough hands ride,
writhe with this sonorous music for two-thousand years.
And in this time, his hands disintegrate;

the mandolin grows weary, morose. Fire
wood crumbles, flames fade modestly. We proceed
in color negative—shadows are always
luminous. And in dawn we break our silence,
let tongues serenade us. I think of you

always, your absent smile in the silver nightingale night.

Time Ticks Itself Away

This ravenous world grows grey, grotesque. A
grazed woman crawls up to a red oak door,
the wind nearly immobilizes her (the weeping widow). She
gropes for the glass knob, moving further by the finger. A man

crawls up to the red door, his pants are torn. He
can’t see his fingernails, the wind flares with seawater. He
gropes for the knob and loses his fingers in green;
the bitter leaf, the alchemist, mourns in color.

The wind flares her nostrils with seawater. She
plunges into the uncertain wind, blaring sounds of mystics
long forgotten, the brittle leaf mourns its tired alchemy.
The waves crash against the jetty she cries, he

plunges into the mystics blaring sounds of wind long
forgotten the whine of the dead longshoremen curls his ears
the waves crash against the jetty he cries, he fights the
gale, opens the door, he doesn’t see her. The gale retreats.

The whine of the dead longshoremen curls her ears
she breathes in lemons: his fingers. She fights
the gale opens the door, she doesn’t see him. The gale retreats.
She collapses in the stalled minute, the heaving sunflower

withers over him. He breathes in jasmine oil: her hands.
Lost in this sea of rose hips, she lets one wither on her lips.
He wanders, catches rose hip dust with his tongue;
this sentient world grows grey, grotesque.

Monique ZamirBorn and raised in New York, Monique Zamir lives in Stillwater whilst she attends an MFA program for poetry in Oklahoma State University. She’s an Assistant Editor for the Cimarron Review and has written on sundry topics of urban intrigue for publications like Untapped Cities. She finds the screeches of the subway to be energizing, and, yes, comforting.