f  r  a  n  c  i  s  r  a  v  e  n

Several Couplets

Savage Hinge
Token Look
Classic Speaker
Chair Speed
Unclosed Book
Full denial
Swimsuit Announcement

Artifice Progress

Theatrical adventures:
the waiting pulse of a sleet storm
about to arrive.

How many appliances plug into that mouth?

    Ladies and gentlemen:
    Some background music:
    A few stage settings.

Does watching someone else have a feeling give you one?

When young we must go backstage
to be positive
the king is still alive;
We do not believe in acting yet.

Where does what is about to arrive dwell for now?

A curtain is a kind of androgynous foreboding
signify not what will come
and not even what sort of thing will come
but that something will, indeed, come to pass.

Where is the string that attaches the insides of the past
        to the organs of now?

Becoming another
even before
believing in existence –
with makeup
aesthetics trump existentials.

How do we say aesthetic need in the dark?

Pull the string
to emergency exist
memories and evocations
with their own sappy lyrics.

How do the lights pounce on the answering machine?

As for stages
we are comforted by metal edges –
like we all live
or at least
how we continue
to tell people we live like.

Is there an intermission in tonight’s show?

Scattered house,
not empty, but scattered voices.
I guess they’re scared of the ice storm.
“but it shouldn’t arrive
till after midnight.”

Have you been burned on vows before?

How would you react?
That’s what I’m learning at the theater:
an education in natural reactions
with a talented cast and clever songs
of a moment complete with
collegiate finding out
who we are where.
Moments of provoked nostalgia.
Over again in a rejection
of who we decided upon.

Is his tilt off?

Between each luxurious verse:
staccato conversations:
the power is a hammer from before.
Before conquering walls:
reverberations with a symphony.

Can we feel the dualism of two people saying
the same thing for different reasons?

executive’s son
as rock critic –
appropriate drink and pen:
choreographed spontaneous jump
of a moment in the early ‘90’s.

Wouldn’t it be funny if the pen didn’t work and I thought it did?

Darkness of intention.
Flirting as simultaneous
and attack.
The ballad still oddly
    touches my heart,
    tries to bloom in my soul.

Several Ideas to Think About Over Dinner

ideas gaze glass    professional torn hat
welcome     period         memory shade
    paid ring     descending
    ripped portion    burned appetizer
canceled receipt        line by line
    stacked books
currently listening        a cage cassette
credit card number exposed
    and the small grooves lend elegance
                to your general game
from respond        the stupid glass you registered for
into which we echo    a meaning in
    the small of your back
            pressing the button
    borrowing        return your greeting
burning small books, but only small ones        has been sent
    and various periodicals
request to unwrap to respond
        flame to keep
a crossing out        our hair    in braids    sometimes lines
    board words    escape sounds
minimum local fact
        owing leaf    cash-back
    travel efficient
    and wrinkle
        surf the fees and tapes
varying by country and state.

Objectively Speaking

Several papers stack;
Ethnic prints lay
Beside empty cereal boxes:
    Several phones stick
    To our mouths
    That bite the bread
    In the sweet bad breath morning.
A pillow is glued to your ear.
Several ancient maps (not yet codified)
Are sucked into your mouth.
Evaporation occurs
Where desiccation must locate.
    It is not a hippie romance.
    Sorry, we’re not absolutely lost.

FRANCIS RAVEN's poems have been published in Pindeldyboz, Monkey Bicycle, Mudlark, Pavement Saw, Poethia, Beehive, Gestalten, Untitled, The In Posse Review, The East Village, The New Colonist, and Taint, among others.  Essays and articles have appeared  in Clamor, In These Times, Fulcrum, Rain Taxi, The New Colonist, Taint, and Pavement Saw.