Guest Blog: John Edward Lawson On the Difficulty of Conjuring Possibility

On the Difficulty of Conjuring Possibility
by John Edward Lawson


It is easy
to imagine you.

It is hard
to imagine you…

It is so-so
to imagine you:


Clouds scold us
overhead, but do not
make good on the threat

Aganippe perches, shaded
nearby, wind-swayed

Watching with a loving
smile despite unseasonable
cold, chewing leaf buds

Behind the storefront
we are warm, well-fed

in your radiance
as you read

to the little ones
attentive, still

In your mouth
a leopard coils
on a box

while a boy gazes
up in admiration

A cough, a tremble,
the crowd shrugs off
bodily considerations

For you and your Bed
Book, and its siblings

Piled high around,
dozens of titles
teetering, all yours

The poster backdrop:
your cartoon shows, films

Replacing your frail
body before us are
two generations of dreams

And friends, little
animals, monsters, kids

The toys spawned
by your children’s books
line our hearts and minds

Hand cupped at mouth one
parent asks another,

“Didn’t she used to
be a poet?” The other shrugs,
lost in a word-trance

Yesterday’s papers tumble
into unwashed gutters

As the wind
picks up, ushering
in new-sprung exhaust`

Thunder in the distance
brings a sigh of relief

The families will have
plentiful crops
to sustain them


My wax girl, accept me, Anasi
Your companion among the brambles.

Gorging on crow pie, digging up,
Up, up the moors, finding all
Is gone; forgiveness has a
Long grave-robbing streak, and an alibi.
Today there’s no need to explain.

Bowdlerize those stories
Up until now, forget.
The dark thing fait accompli
We’ll call it an accident, a fall–
Everyone knows kitchen dangers well.

Remedy my stiff upper lip with impromptu
Evanescence, darling, little moments between
Milestone and grain, monolith and grass.
Apercu in our children, in me and you.
It shouldn’t take such extremities for
Nuptuals to overtake the trickester in me.

Never again, love.


Assia Wevill escaped the Nazis
but not you. Ach, du…ach du. The fury
Hell hath it returned, unopened, but you
had no fear of tugging that red ribbon,
tearing that paper anniversary wrapping.

Vulcan of words, hammering, heating
and cooling, punctuating and cutting
altogether, you were introduced to a new
variety of sentence: death, in itself
lusterless after decades of familiarity,

but imposition by a judge lent it
a bit of sparkle. The life of a second-
woman was not enough to turn heads,
but the pup spiraling out of control
in her belly, to cut it short doomed you.

In 1964, after muckrakers decided not
to revive their flashbulbs for you
anew, you found residence in Oscar
Wilde’s old haunt…HM Prison Holloway.
All the unmarked dears withering

in the ground out back, they lullabied
you. The non-reading public wrung
their hands in anticipation; literate
types held their breath, hung
their heads. With each passing

day your smile broadened. As an artist
you had already mastered removing
the unwanted. Acetate, sponge,
blade. The other woman vanished
from your landscape, by your hand,

as you soon would, by the masked
man’s command. What a shock, then,
when your death day also disappeared,
erased by Briton’s repeal of capitol
punishment. Art traders, eager to
cash in on your “retirement,”

had already pumped your value
to treacherously high levels,
purchasing your every watercolor
and doodle. Thus you were reborn,
sylvan phoenix, caged

bird of too many colors for this
world, too many treasures.


On this season of Dancing
With the Stars: Sylvia Plath!
Nothing scintillates like
geriatric, forgotten celebrities
of yesteryear sprung from the crypt
to prance and pose one last
time. Sylvia the repackaged
product is shaven down
to the hairlessness of a lab rat,
or prepubescent girl, save
for the scalp…or is that a wig?
Hair dye and extensions, at the
very least, woven as the Fates weave:
with glittering silk coaxed
from prehistoric worms extinct
as pride. The strokes arching
over each eye in place of brows
delineate Its willingness to subject
Its body to the dominion of willpower,
as do the twin sculptures
that are Its 38 DD enhancements.
Eyes surgically tightened to
the stranglehold of desperation,
the deer-in-Athena’s-crosshairs look
of petrification so alluring
to marketing executives. Laugh
lines and sorrow creases and anger
cracks smoothed away by chemical feng
shui. What vintage is this side
of beef? 1933, let’s call It belle
époque. Will you tap that ass, siphon
that blood, it is $103 per bottle–pricey
enough to impress the audience, those
trundling Hungry Man dinners into
their digestive tracts by the
truckload. Full Figure Five,
Its “home movie” shot with a tattooed
young male celeb, has “somehow”
leaked onto the Internet, generating
more buzz than a horde of bees
overwhelming stern German biologists.
Ubiquitous in rap videos grunting
“Yo papi, papi ya biz-asturd I be
through!” and nabbing the catbird
of prey position in Maxim. Shuffling
from the tabloid back burner
to the lower front cover to the sidebar
to the Bradjelina blowup. Who will be
eliminated this week: Hope & Legacy,
or Readership & Respect? It flaunts
Its flexibility within the rigid formulas
of Meringue, Fox-trot, the Jerk,
and Cantor. The whip cracks. Onetwothree
step. Onetwothree step. Don’t dare
contemplate what comes next. The whip
cracks. It is the oldest product ever
to make the cover of Playboy,
“One of the highlights of my life,”
It informs readers. It can talk,
talk, talk. The late night circuit
awash with false camaraderie and
frothing drool of advertisers,
the morning radio circuit drenched
with sophomoric innuendo, the 4 o’clock
self-help hour loaded with sensitive
hosts and book clubs to hawk Its wares.
It has risen as a golem, not a Lazarus,
clunk-clunk-clunking along with
the rhythm pounded out by white-collar
handlers. It has not written in years;
It has not published a commercial
success in decades; It has not published
a critical success in scores of years.
Onetwothree hop, onetwothree skip,
onetwothree smile and wave. The whip
caresses, scourges wet-cold as
the evaporating saliva of a lover’s kiss.
Nodding in unison the judges
and crowd are glad that Sylvia
lived long enough and well
enough to be dancing
to the top today.

About the A9fdcd4a5f3e9e4fb03ca5beb61b19334uthor:  Lawson is the author of fifteen books, garnering nominations for the Dwarf Stars, Puschart, Rhysling, Stoker, and Wonderland awards. He is a founder of Raw Dog Screaming Press, has done freelance editing for National Lampoon and Double Dragon Publishing, served as editor-in-chief of The Dream People, and edited six anthologies. You can spy on him at

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