Belinda Subraman

Cinematic Illusions Before 1960
Back when the stories of our lives
Were told in black and white
Back when differences were scorned
When acting pious was the norm
When key lighting was a dramatic must
When a drink and a smoke
Were accepted, expected
In everyday life
And phones were connected to curls of wire
When women, all but the loose
Wore dresses, hair sprayed coifs
Neatly parted on the side
When sex was readily made
But usually denied
When handshakes and shadows
Were clues
When flirts wore tight clothes
But showed no cleavage
When a sermon in church
Made us cry
When older men were wise
Judges were right
And good guys won
Handkerchiefs were in pockets
Tie clips on shirts
When a mustache and a pipe
Meant an elegant man
When priest and nuns were golden
And children, always and forever
Were safe with them   

As the Cold Comes
We cast our fears 
into ghosts and monsters
that haunt or hurt us
in our mirrored bits of universe.
We process projection
 hug creative gods again
let our fingers worship light
in this season of tugs
from the devil and the dead
the prelude to family potlucks
laughter in unison
having moved away from the holler
where a metal box in the creek 
hides bottles of homemade booze.
I was a hillbilly child once removed
a preschooler avoiding the stinking outhouse
by peeing downhill by the basement
as  close to the barking dogs as I would dare go
I was alone with a brother who tortured or ignored me
and a grandmother who surreptitiously sewed
in order to buy contraband 
like Avon gilded dust catchers
that multiplied the meager light
and beamed back to the universe
a boundless love.
We opened to the yin and the yang
where we struggled
until we numbed rational voices
and honored myth
a second chance and a jackpot
a soft bed to land on in humility
where families embrace the impossible again
the highest order of illusion, a delicate bubble
a celebration of our close-knit clarity
as we huddle in the cold season
and enjoy our fears.

Like Ireland   ( to an ex)
Remember the leprechaun man
at the Folk Museum
in Belfast?
An official guide he was
who got weirder
the more he talked.
Soon he was telling
of IRA terrorism,
devil worship,
and hinting at things
so much worse
he dared not tell.
He had quit it all
to live a quiet life,
to entertain
and to scare tourists.
            When we left
             I shook his hand
            and said, “Perhaps
            I’ll transfer
            special energy to you
            through this shake”
            and he said, “Yes”
            and I could see
            that he believed I did.
            I left my mark on Belfast.
Then there was the night
you slept through gun shots
just outside our window.
Others ran through the hotel
to the street windows.
I was afraid,
imagined the shots
were meant for us,
the only American tourists
in Belfast of a troubled year,
so I saw nothing.
Next day I told you.
You were not surprised
or interested.
The paper reported three deaths
that night
and every night we were there.
            A land of ghosts
            and terrorists
            and beautiful
            imaginative people
            and us.
We slept in separate beds
and never touched.
            So where was the fiber
            of your being?
            What makes you sleep
             so soundly at night
            and seem so tense
            during the day?
            Where do you travel 
            in your dreams?
If only we could reach out
or at least turn towards each other
and dream
at the same time
into a separate oneness,
like Ireland.

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