Two Poems by Julie Gard
He is shopping at a Moscow megamall disguised as a teenage model. He is haggling in the market in a headscarf. He is running shirtless on his treadmill, cursing Boris Nemtsov and every Chechnyan who didn’t assassinate him. He is standing guard with a Kalashnikov outside of a Vladivostok night club. He is a British tourist on the Trans-Siberian, eating biscuits and reading Anna Karenina in the new Bartlett translation. He is riding a horse in his feverish dreams. From his sick room, he sees trucks lining up outside the Kremlin walls and imagines they’re delivering 10,000 blocks of ice cream. He has turned into a bear, one whose entire hibernation is being filmed and watched by schoolchildren in Irkutsk. He is holed up in an underground monastery in Pskov, turning into an onion. He is passing out revolutionary leaflets disguised as a 19th-century peasant. He is paging through seed catalogs at the dacha. He is paging through scrapbooks of the Summer Olympics. He’s in Switzerland burping his love child. He is busy being disappeared. He tells them to stop posting lame photos from last week. He tells them to stop overthrowing him. They tell him to shut up. But you’re my goddamn inner circle, he says, fingering the dog-eared hit list that they let him keep in his pocket. So much polonium, so little time.
After Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s Dulle Griet (Mad Meg)
Skeleton knights and hatted frogs stand no chance against hausfraus in starched white headscarves. These dames bear swords like natural threshers, bring them down overhead like dancers. There’s a rhythm to the pillage that is broken only for bread. When and what, pray tell, is mealtime at the gaping mouth of hell?
The nostril of hell wears a nose ring, the pupil of hell a cream tile. Hell’s faces are round and beseeching. What’s the use of a spoon poking out of an ass? Plenty if untarnished silver. Behold leaping and flailing, projectile organs and a blood-streaked, smoldering sky. All of evil breaks out of an egg.
Call women a problem and they’ll show who the problem is. Close misplaced mouths, drown swimmers and drinkers, mute limb-eating fish and blanched calves. One holds her loot like a child, bundled and close. One presses a fallen man’s breastbone, saving or holding him down.
And Meg, Margriet, bold tall Griet, bowls forth with her long-sword and a kitchen knife in her stocking, solid shoes and basket prepared. She is no sex symbol. Wants a new frying pan and justice, wants everything clean and fire does that. Meg is bored by a regular day, longs for night and its audible anguish.
Not pretty enough to harass, but that’s never true. A trusting child, a drawbridge that no one thought to put up. Now she makes them scream what they can’t take back. Of course, she is mad to the point of crazy. She’s had enough and it isn’t pretty.
Meg makes hell nervous, like nest-stealing cuckoos eye crows. I was born for this, her gait says. Dulle Griet is nothing but future. Her body is strong bones and air. She leans into what’s coming, becomes it.
Julie Gard‘s prose poetry collection Home Studies (New Rivers Press) was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award, and other publications include Scrap: On Louise Nevelson (Ravenna Press) and two chapbooks. She lives in Duluth, Minnesota and is Associate Professor of Writing at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.