Poetry

3 Poems – Neil Ellman

Cockatoo and Corks

(after the assemblage by Joseph Cornell)

I

Simple artifacts
collected in a wooden box:
corks that grew
in Portugal
stamped
with a family’s name
held back the air
to make life drinkable.

II

A cockatoo watches
drinks, stuffed, breathes
one last time
the pink exuberance
the brief concoction
that is life.

Joseph Cornell Setting for a Fairy Tale, 1942Fair use image Guggenheim museum Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection

Joseph Cornell Setting for a Fairy Tale, 1942
Fair use image Guggenheim museum Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection

Setting for a Fairy Tale

(after the box construction by Joseph Cornell)

Where Rapunzel hung her hair
Sleeping Beauty slept
her eyes behind the windows
traced the path
of shadows on the moor
a perfect place for Little Bo Peep
to lose her sheep
a princess kiss a frog
while elves and gnomes
roam the grounds
and dragons wait to die—
welcome to my fairy tale
in this grimy spot
that we call Camelot.

Solar Set

(after the box assemblage by Joseph Cornell)

How we deconstruct the logic
of the spin and yaw of earth
still the solar winds
and store them in a wooden frame
how we hang the rings of Jupiter
on closet rods
spread the planets side-by-side
in absinthe cups
how we disambiguate the light
of sun and moon
and place them in a shadow box.

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