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"L'Ancien" and "Telepathy," poems by B. Childs-Helton

by B. Childs-Helton

I bring to bear whatever I can find –
old potsherds, empty casings
from some long-fought war
in secret latitudes
outside the official theater
of sanctioned shadows
on the ancient walls
where the painted prey
brought down perpetually
is signed with a red hand
long disappeared,
magic sown with salt
where the land is silent
but the rocks are resonating underneath
the insouciant sun
that greens a disguise of grass
and hides in the wheel of ghosts
in some other sky.
My voice is smoke
because I have turned to sparks
and incidental ashes like the rest,
unable to remember what to say
but singing anyway in borrowed light.

by B. Childs-Helton

If I were reading someone’s mind
right now (assuming
that a mind is like a book,
enough that its usual job
is to sit unread), the leery owner
might pretend real hard
that whatever page I’m reading
is either blank or trivial enough
that nothing beautiful is visible
above its impregnable anonymity;
that poetry is fancy tricks with words
that fill the dutiful blankness
with odd thoughts,
dangerous suspicions that those words
might not mean exactly what they say
& suddenly turn from a pile of normal bricks
into an expanding cloud of doves,
& there goes the wall that I was trying to build
to keep hope out & imagination in
(disguised as plans I must pretend are dreams),
& suddenly I’m enjoying what can’t exist,
invited to just make up stuff like mad.
Good thing telepathy is a parlor trick.

B. Childs-Helton has been tangled up in language lifelong—immersing in literature, creative writing, songwriting, and folklore studies at and around Wittenberg University and Indiana University. He served on the poetry editorial board of Indiana Writes (now Indiana Review), performed in Bloomington poetry-and-music ensemble Third Wind, and presently contributes to the Lawrence Poets Laureate group. He is also a longtime fan of science fiction, and performs with eclectic-Celtic folk-rock band Wild Mercy. He has subsidized such activities by editing computer books since the 1990s.