Three Poems by R.D. Landau

Ghazal

Chocolate meditation: listen to the foil crinkle
touch the smooth surface, bite off the tip, now eat the kiss.

All she wants is to climb a tree in peace.
But all these strangers (relatives) demand a kiss.

She woke with the pain of childbirth (twins).
What prince would slash through briar for a kiss?

My first east coast winter cured my romanticitis:
a snowflake is closer to a thumbtack than a kiss.

“I imprint several kisses upon your lips,” said Addie to Rebecca.
150 years later, graduate students annotate that kiss.

I saw the Queen of America at Yankee Stadium.
We raised our butterfly nets to catch her airborne kiss.

 

I-5

Inefficient irrigation casts rainbows. I drown
out my parents’ argument with headphones.

The car smells like nail polish remover and tropical
fruit gum. Mom hands me a rice cake to stave off nausea.

I press my nose against the too-clean rental car glass.
Outside, an egret in a pond trying to pass for a marsh.

Someone has to pee so we must go outside.
I see the ripple in the air before I feel the heat.

There’s nothing on the radio but Christian rock. To save
mom from falling asleep, dad picks another fight.

 

Tilt Your Head Back So Far You Can See The Ozone Layer

I.

There’s a line of pink across the sky, straight as a ruler. Whatever the hell that is, it’s not a sunset. The queen extends her right arm, palm up, fingers curled outwards. She holds a sword with her left hand. “That robe looks like bunnies,” my little cousin giggles. “No wonder woman!” says his sister. He pounces; they wrestle. My aunt is too busy staring at the sky to separate them. The tape doesn’t scare her- it’s the question of what the tape is holding together.

II.

He calls himself the emperor, wears a crown of interlocking pentagons, grew out his beard, built a gold frame around his world and so on but to us he’ll always be the rat king. His toes point like a ballerina as his throne rotates slowly. The motion makes you nauseous; you bury your head in my shoulder. “Should I turn it off?” I ask. “No,” you say. “I like it here.” I feel your words through cotton.

III

Couldn’t slice the landscape right. I wanted to get that expanse of sand, empty except the occasional footprints and carprints, and that smog-blue sky and the toy city on the horizon. If only I knew how to wield a protractor, I would prove that the difference between a beach and a desert is what lies out of frame. But there I go again, privileging the visual. The real difference is the smell.

 

 

***

R.D. Landau is a rising senior at Columbia university. Her work has appeared in Star 82 Review, Hanging Loose Press, and tl;dr. Her writing usually at least one of the following: dragons, droughts or desserts.

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