washington, dc

31 october 2008


Sailor's Warning
"A Total Victory for Chaos"

About Maureen Thorson



Sailor's Warning

There's no one to rock but the waves,
and the waves don’t care, the waves don’t care
even about being the waves.

Only you will care for them—measuring
their length and breadth, their height and color.
You will learn the wind:

Thunderheads at an insane distance,
dawn a red slick along
the ocean’s defeated perspective.

You’ll know this like the halfmoons
of your nailbeds, hardbitten, salt-stung.
You’ll smell the diesel sweat

of a thousand ships, become one with tar and rope,
the waves that don’t give a damn,
and know yourself, at a distance.

You’ll know that no one knows you.




Two dioramas down, the drunken sailor
Admires a deep-sea diver, standing

On the sea bed like a summons,
A dull blank porthole of a mask

Asking visitors to just forget, forget it all.
The sailor leans his forehead against the glass

As I take off to circle aimlessly
Beneath the life-sized blue whale

Strung from the ceiling, caught mid-dive,
Its gaping mouth an invitation

To a kind of darkness that could be total,
A promise that could hold you closer,

Never stop singing you back to the salt.



From ApplIes to Oranges

Lambing time at the Hotel Cordillera—
all firm flesh and soft angles as
young men the color of graham crackers
pad down the sugar sand to test
the waters with their bodies. The girls,
brought here by snowbird parents
for a week of tropical sunshine, sip
virgin mimosas beneath umbrellas—
all orange juice and ginger ale
and the soft laughter that comes
from watching boys, stifling squeals,
and sooner or later hands behind
the cabana, eyelashes fluttering
in the old language of fans, their
yes-please, and oh-if-you-would,
that definitive shut-me-and-shake.



From ApplIes to Oranges

This is how stalagmites build, meaning
explodes, how the camel’s back becomes
a bower heady with oranges. Brides
came for miles to cut crowns of blossoms
from my orchard’s boughs, but now
not even spiders mate there, and the air
contains only satellites, machines
sending sounds to other machines.
Twilight reflects terrible intentions.
The cord’s been cut from the phone.
If there’s a problem from here on,
Houston, you’ll have to go it alone.



"A Total Victory for Chaos"

The bed’s unmade. New-washed clothes
Go unfolded. The dining room’s a storehouse
For mail, old checks, sunglasses, bracelets,
                                        the jetsam of days and days.


We’re gonna be museum pieces, someday.
                    We’re gonna dry up and get stable.


For now, fold yourself into rumpled sheets, pick
                     your outfit from off the piles on the floor.

Tell the TV that you like what it’s doing, give the fridge a bye
                     on the tomato with a life of its own.


We’ve eased into splendor.
                    Into broken chickens and whole mermaids.

Shoes traipsing the floors unfooted,
                    until we trip over them, unshod.


We left some glasses on the roof. We left our books outside.
                     We left our bodies tumbled up.


Yankees v. Pirates. A room away, I hear the gasps floating over
                               ZZ Top opining

on women and their attitudes.




is an attorney. She is the author of two chapbooks, Mayport (Poetry Society of America) and Novelty Act (Ugly Duckling Presse).