SEVEN | FALL 2017
Do Not Take the Tennis Court Oath
J. Thomas Burke
Some trees spurred the poem. They stalked rivers and mountains obscuring the sunrise in suburbia while we sang three madrigals. Not even a fragment of a distant evening in the country could destroy our double dream of spring, the desire to sip the spirit of the south, which sank each poetic utterance deep beneath the silt of unknown cowboys. I, the serious doll, who painted my portrait in a convex mirror. You, captain of our houseboat days, plot to escape the shadow train careening toward us like a wave of April galleons thrown askew by Arctic ice storms. Devour the haibun whole. It is not a flow chart for the bellhops at Hotel Lautreamont. Scatter our books across the lawn, each one a star shining toward heaven while closing the door on another worm's meal. Can you hear, dove? That is the thunder of wakefulness. Write your name and follow, as umbrellas follow rain. Wisdom cannot be carried like Chinese whispers. It is not wonder. No more shall we wander the frozen north, that worldly country. Abandon our planisphere like a quick question in the breezeway. Roar through the bundles of flight, the commotion of the birds.
J. Thomas Burke is an MFA candidate studying poetry in the Creative Writing Workshop at the University of New Orleans. He also serves as a poetry reader for the literary journal, Bayou Magazine. His work has most recently been accepted for publication in the journals Panoply, SPANK the CARP, and Gloom Cupboard.