by Jean-Mark Sens 

Music behind the melody

Leave the melody behind to hear the music
coming out of the sound, notes plucked
run quick over the sidewalk, shoes tapping and stiletto crescendo,
a rumbling of trains, pianograffity—Mingus
A Chinese dynasty—the clarity of vases
resounds Charlie—Ivory smooth of fioriture’s
like Don the see the stars in a glass—Perignon
and the kids in Kansas—eyes erased to snow motions on and off
the screen and screams what’s more real than the shadows
a challenge to Plato of phenomenological double bass.
Notice the Doctor said that summer your face asymmetrical
lumped on one side—silent stroke
a musical aphasia? Bell Palsy of a percussionist
and how not to buy it coming from a specialist,
hologram on his smock? Pictures won’t even tell.
Check otorhinolaryngologist—as if something wrong in the music box of your face
tabbed your cheeks, the end nerves of your skin
and that evening—all inconclusive—
listen to Mingus—left the melody behind
for the music and nothing to find crooking your lips,
turned and smiling.

Today you belong to the rain

The eyes of needles through its curtain.
It murmurs its own eternity.
Realm of gutters, culverts
its flowing in echo of a few discrete songs.
It belongs to the city—glazes it
gives yellow eyes to busses, tiptoes avenues
fast high-heel clatters of its run.
The rain weaves silent threads
wet drapes stepping out open and close in
a passage on the air waves
news recitations, currencies dipping,
rise on interest, rice field profits
rattling billions of grains bagged from chutes.
You belong to the rain which does not belong to you.
It polishes your face bent over the banister
a ship sails two dimensional against the mist
chartered shells of cargo containers
parts to parts UNLIMITED the whole puzzle of a factory
a present presence interloper of its own journey
it withdraws, migrates washing colors behind to a new brightness
insects, plants, a spell of freshness as through spontaneous creation
a clear horizon, rebirth over sidewalks and gangways, a few promeneurs
your face wet with a new rain from under your skin
the rain you belong to within/ without your body—80% humidity the air and you.


It is only recently I have noticed
the many lips women leave behind
seasonal and changing to circumstances
they color their lips
the classic red, the auburn hue, the young and trendy
silvery blush, and some others of more extreme glossiness
even a rebellious velvet blue of a teenager
as if to accentuate this mysterious aperture
the worlds come back and forth through us
transmuting words and air
the tongue lolls and longs inside—
lips women leave behind
semi-moons on paper coffee cups
a red rim on a cigarette
as to give back something out of the evanescent smoke
or the strange imprint
pursed lips on a napkin that unfold an oval silence
opened almost like an eye.

Lips multiplied to the marks they leave,
floating out of the mouths that bore them—like butterflies
as in a dream escaping
sensual and ephemeral imprints
more than desires can read
and coming back to me
those lips of a new year revelry
quick and elusive among the throng
the tease of yours I found years later in a kiss.

At the hospital my brother directs an art therapy workshop.
Lips appear often on drawings red and out of proportions
wanting to say what the mind can’t articulate,
voluble silent a hand traces
and the women especially smear moon circles.
Once a participant rounded an O mouth with lipstick over the window
and wrote in reverse inside “We’re in/ You’re out,”
a divide transparent and tangible,
A lost kiss floating in the air for all to read to red.

About the Author:

Born in France, Jean-Mark Sens has lived in the American South for over twenty years. He candidate for priesthood at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. His work has been published in the U.S. and Canada, and he has a collection, Appetite, with Red Hen Press:

He is also working on culinary book Leafy Greens & Sundry Things