Bifolio

Tracy Kellmer's Poems and Photos

How Easy

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How easy it is to
destroy a man’s life.
To trade compliments
with witty barbs,
to call his bluff
and meet him at
the hotel, where
while he is busy
snorting your body
on the coffee table,
he misses his
rehearsals, loses
the part and his
fiancé.

How easy it is
to walk out with
a garbage bag of
clothes, a crate of
CDs, and to throw
a particle board
desk and bookshelf
into the back of
a colleague’s pickup truck
with the boxspring
and mattress and
drive into the city,
“selfish bitch” ringing
in your ears.

How easy it is
to swing a gavel
depress a plunger
liquidate a factory
sign a declaration
of war.

Written by tracykellmer

December 8, 2011 at 2:47 am

Posted in Poem

Blue

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Written by tracykellmer

December 4, 2011 at 2:37 am

Posted in Photo

Tuscarora

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She lets Peggy wear the bathing suit to the pool,
even though it’s her turn to wear it. She doesn’t mind
wearing her cutoff shorts and t-shirt to the pool—
she doesn’t care what she looks like when she jumps off
the diving board feet first; she can still swim under
water from one end of the pool to the other
in one breath.

She takes a break, and sits on the ledge of the pool,
and gazes at the five Filipino teenagers
she’s nicknamed in her head the lizard, the scorpion,
the toad, the centipede, and the snake, who sits next
to her during the evening sermon and practices
his English in whispers.

Written by tracykellmer

November 19, 2011 at 2:33 am

Posted in Poem

Kirkwood

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She sits on a padded, metal-framed
black banquet chair, in a small white room
over a truckstop bar.
Ty pulls her outstretched shoeless
right foot against the zipper
of his jeans, and rotates her calf
to get a flat surface on which to work.

He says “good girl” when he runs
his orange-and-white disposable bic
over her skin, “you already shaved.”
He wears a blue bandana tied over his dark
hair and drinks a labatt’s blue out
of the six-pack she brought.

He tells her he’s an Indian, “that
Native Americans are the ones
with the casinos.” He smears
Mennen green speedstick deodorant
on her leg, and lays a sheet of tracing
paper on the shiny spot, transferring
a stencil of her seahorse onto the skin.

He takes a needle from a cylinder of
blue liquid, and straps it into the gun
with rubberbands. He steps on a pedal,
and the gun whines like a motorbike.
“Now hold very still,” he says, and

she watches the needle dig into her leg
and fill the gashes with ink: rivers of black,
reservoirs of green, blue, yellow, and orange.
She watches the blood and excess ink
run over the side of her calf, relaxes
her muscles in the grip of his left
hand, and warms her foot in his lap.

Written by tracykellmer

November 6, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Posted in Poem

Green

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Written by tracykellmer

September 17, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Posted in Photo

Santa Monica

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She doesn’t bother to lift and push
the metal frame and mattress back into the couch.
She lies around all day, waiting for him
to come home to his studio apartment,
watching un-subtitled Miyazaki films.

She caught a glimpse of the sun
setting over the peir on the evening
of her arrival, when she tried
to overcome his disappointment
by slipping her arm through his.

She is not fine-boned like
the women in the videos. Her eyes
are blue, her face round, her hair
short. She is not shy. But
she waits, napping in the black tights
and black t-shirt he instructed she wear.

Because he bought her plane ticket,
he pulls her elbows behind her,
presses her palms together and lifts
them high between her shoulder blades.
Using a roll of white, non-bruising gauze,
and a series of knots, he binds
her with an elaborate geometry.

He presents herself to herself
in a mirror; together they admire
his handiwork. She is beautiful,
silent, still; a diamond-patterned
snake basking in the sun.

Written by tracykellmer

September 17, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Posted in Poem

South Tucson

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Victor, Luis, Pedro and Oscar
live in the basement of a church
in South Tucson, Arizona
an hour away from the Mexican border.

They smile at the gringa,
and offer her lemonade.

She tries to play Beethoven sonatas on the church piano.
They take turns walking her home at night
because they’ve seen what can happen to women
unattended.

If they ask, the gringa will walk with them in the daytime,
off church property,
holding their hands,
fooling the INS into thinking they are Mexican citizens.

They explain, but she is confused
by the Sandinista and Contra
Nicaragua Guatemala El Salvador.
They know she has seen the photo album of mutilated corpses;
she has said she believes in Sanctuary.

Luis is quiet because he don’t speak much English,
Victor says, and teaches the gringa Spanish.
He writes recordar to remember on the blackboard
and olvidar to forget.

Oscar is to leave Friday for Los Angeles,
the church bought him a new pair of shoes,
a new life.

Victor tells the story of Luis, Pedro tells the story of Oscar
and Oscar tells

that Victor was a medical student
and that his wife was a medical student
and that the government shut the school
so the couple joined a picket line of other students
and when the soldiers came to break up the picketing, they spoke
with machine guns, and Victor’s wife was shot and died in his arms.

But that’s not all.
He saw who did it and found him.
Victor pulled out his tongue with a pair of pliers.

Victor, Luis, Pedro and Oscar
live in the basement of a church,
in South Tucson, Arizona
an hour away from the Mexican border.

 

(Originally written during my time in graduate school, this poem hasn’t seen the light of day since it was included in my dissertation manuscript of 2000. But back then, in a meeting with my adviser Jack Vernon, I got the message that you can’t always be sloughing off your past—you’ll lose something important and worth holding onto.)

Written by tracykellmer

September 8, 2011 at 1:51 am

Posted in Poem

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