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Issue 10 - A Journal of Letters and Life
Four Poems
John Randolph Carter
Author's Links

See John Carter's images and essay in current Gallery section.

Something Useful from the Future

A black carriage rattles and squeaks
and clip-clops through the narrow streets,
sounds of laughter inside
and a glimpse of a white dress.

The sounds echo and die away
and what remains is a misty dark
drizzle and an orange glow
through the window curtains.
I like standing in a doorway
waiting for George Washington
to step outside of Christ Church
after an evening service.

Not yet the father of a country
or a painted profile leading
desperate men across a river in winter
or a green engraving on a piece of paper.
I would like to emerge from the shadows
and offer him something useful from the future
-dental floss. But what if that tipped
the fragile balance of history just enough?

Her Lap

I'm complaining again about the time
my mother went to France and left
me alone with the stewardess.

I was only ten but she made me feel
like thirteen and wonder about sheer
silk stockings and garter belts and how
to unfasten a bra.

She would take me on her airplane and
I would sit by the window in First Class
and stare out at the landscape of clouds
and down at the wrinkled mountains.
She would bring me a steaming bowl
of cream of wheat with brown sugar
and a melting tab of butter and sit beside me
and stroke my thigh as I spooned it in.

At night she would read to me from
Playboy magazine as I lay in my
pajamas with my head in her lap
and then would switch off the lamp
and the moonlight would stream
in the window and project strange
shadows on the wall.

The Day My Hat Flew Out the Window

And landed on the head of a passing motorist
who drove his convertible through
the Holland Tunnel into Manhattan.

A sudden gust of wind removed the hat and it
sailed into the air and spun around and around
until in a blur of motion it became a flying saucer.
All gleaming and metallic it landed across the Hudson
at the foot of the Statue of Liberty and
tiny little spacemen got out and took pictures
with tiny little cameras.

I stood at the open window feeling the
breeze across the top of my bare head as
it moved the curtains, and I contemplated
a hatless life. Nothing but my eyebrows to
shade me from the glare of publicity.

Not Just Yet

The lights go out
and you're gone.
You are gone.
Can someone go to the cupboard
for replacement bulbs?
What window of what house goes dark?
For me, suddenly, too many dark windows.
So when I go out for a walk
I have all these shadows
on long leashes
and I drag them along.
I'm not sure what I'm holding
on to-the afterlight?
Bombs are dropping all around, all around.
But not one on my head yet.
Not yet.
Not just yet.

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