From Keyboards, Characters

by Nina Corwin

 for Anne Silver, dec. 2005
A comma here and there

and words pitch
an aria from La Boheme, become
tropical fruit in Carmen Miranda’s hat.
Shine shoes, park cars.
Comes the dust of an ellipsis and

who knows…

A bevy of characters
comes on tap,
connecting us, as if genetically,
through sequences
strung out in countless permutations
a backspace can erase.

(There are people

who see personalities
in every alphabetic letter. Favorite colors
and zodiac tattoos. Can paralyze
a timepiece with a single touch.)

…You, my friend,

are an exclamation point, that is
the shortest distance to
the bottom line, a compact sentence
with a knockout jab!

I am an asterisk.*

You insist: one comma
too many for a simple declarative
sentence. Precursor
to an afterthought. I am that
which never goes
without saying, sloshes into margins.

Beyond that,

I am tresses spilling over
a tortoise shell barrette.
*Two cents more
than two cents more.

But you –

you are a capillary
cut short. Last flag
at the eighteenth hole. Flamenco red
with castanets for fingers,
you are the arch and the eyebrow,
vodka straight up with a wink
at thought’s end,

a salty staccato.

Moles can see it
from two blocks away.
For you: the quickening heart,
the sucker punch.
For me: the detour
sign where bridges are equivocal.

And why stop there?

I am a pair of walkie-talkies and
the static in between. A clothesline
connecting two windows. Length of rope
just long enough
to string three sheets.

Some days

are hunt and peck
at best, pig slops
and chicken scratch.  Others come
bearing tea and scones
on silver trays. Between whistling
kettle and compost pail, gourmands
and philosophers argue
we are what we ingest.

But for now,

my dying friend, you are
Jimmy Durante’s final chortled cha!
in ha-cha cha cha! and if
you don’t mind my saying,
you are the ultimate in apogee
and fiddlestick.

I, on the other hand,

am not exactly
an astral body in Upper Case,
but a binary star
in a busy constellation. Stopping traffic
to ask the orbits for directions.


Nina Corwin is the author of Conversations With Friendly Demons and Tainted Saints. Recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize, her work appears or is forthcoming in ACM, Forklift Ohio, Hotel Amerika, New Ohio Review/nor, Parthenon West, Southern Poetry Review andVerse. Psychotherapist in daylight hours, she has twice served as guest editor for Fifth Wednesday Journal.