Learning to Swim in Cursive

Learning to Swim in Cursive
by Julie Sumner

A keyboard with its rapid-fire clicks wields words
with keystrokes as uniform as bullets.

However–
the downstroke of the cursive
capital “J”
requires a push-pull of the ink pen,
a dive through the blue-ruled line
then a flip-turn and arc to surface again.
The pen scoops and curls
as words scrawl across the page–
each idea like a breath held
between pen strokes,
whose rhythm wrenches meaning
and oxygen
from handwriting’s singular shape.

What the Dog Tells Me

This poem is for my friend, Nancy. Our dog confused her iPhone with a chew toy, and for that we are very sorry.

What the Dog Tells Me
by Julie Sumner

The dog is barking again,
Telling me everything she knows–
Telling me my neighbor Nancy
Has the audacity
To roll her garbage can to the curb–
A menacing gesture to be sure.

The dog is barking again,
Telling me everything she knows–
Telling me she was mistaken
That in fact
Nancy is being carried away
By the evil garbage can,
Its dripping mouth agape–
We should do something now
Before it’s too late!

The dog is barking again,
Telling me everything she knows–
Telling me it’s ok after all,
The garbage can is frozen in fear
At the din of such a terrible bark,
Nancy escapes a putrid fate,
And lives to take her garbage out
On another sun-washed day.

Daguerreotype of a Young Man

Daguerreotype of a Young Man
by Julie Sumner

A picture of presence,
A person–all breath
And nerves, eyelashes
And ideas–
Now mapped into
The lines and spaces
Of a silvered image,
Caught fast like a fish
Shining on the hook,
A form of himself,
An absent sort of presence:
The outline of his lips
Is easily traced,
Though his given name
Is past remembering,
But life’s wily vibrance
Still lights
His long-dead face.