≡ Menu

Lindsay Tuggle

The Ventriloquist’s Lament

Let me tell you:

in strangers’ houses
all roads lead to rooms
mirrors turn a blind eye

to undone hair and buttons
the swoop of lambent moths
and other accidental creatures

kitchen tables float like coral
pomegranates stain your
hands blood red for days

space is reserved for

long eyes and afternoons
glancing in windowsills

every day a new photograph
in the thraldom of debt
I grew out of all that dust.

__________________________________________________________
Lindsay Tuggle grew up in Alabama, Kentucky, and Kansas. She moved to Australia ten years ago, and now lives in Austinmer. She has written poetry for most of her life, though she only began writing for publication a few years ago. Lindsay is interested in the relationship between language and place, especially vanished or vanishing places: those that exist now only in the memories of the people who once lived there. Her poetry has been published in HEAT and as part of The Red Room Company’s Dust Poems and Unlocked projects. In 2009, her work was awarded second prize in the Val Vallis Award for Poetry.

The Northern Road

1.

I should have known
him but I had no prior
experience with prophets.

Something about the time of day
felt still as

_______the invisible press of tobacco,
the rustle of upturned leaves
in a thousand barns.

Finality slides deeper.
Uncut grasses roll and die.

Commodified firewood fills
the absence of orchard bones.

Other attractions:

winter anonymity,
_______once done
creeps into country,
etches convoys in the woods.

The prohibition of nostalgia
is born in
cellar holes and undone buttons.

Ochre cigarettes paper the urinal.
Letters above the caricatures.

Please proceed in an orderly fashion
toward the faith cures.

Changes that would seem evidently
_______paranormal
such as
_______the regeneration of lost fingers
do not arise
in the context of
_____________________modern healers.

Still it remains—
glass in her wound.

I never left the house
I just took the door with me.

2.

The mouth is an archway
_______semi _______elliptical

The walls and roof bow
near the centre
and retain that curvature
_______to the end.

The floor inclines upward,
at the far end comes to meet
the bent ceiling.

This excavated channel is
born of deposits and erosion.

Near the ceiling two narrow
crevices extend across
and beyond the Cave.

One has a chimney-like opening
large enough to admit _____________________a man.

This small place is known
as the ‘upper cave’
and has a history and fiction
all its own.

This is the hermitage
of river thieves and highwaymen.

Early travellers designated it
by various names, all of which
contained the word ‘Cave.’

‘It has the appearance of
something like a large oven.’

‘We beheld numbers of names
cut into the sides of the Cave.’

I don’t know what ownership means
except to say
you own the silence that surrounds you.

In dwelling
the only occupation is
the air you leave behind.

A part
or particle _______unsettled;
a disused cavern
_____________________of breath.

Won’t you
_______come______________ in?

Author’s Note: This poem was influenced by my time with the residents of John Morony Correctional Facility and the landscape that surrounds it. It also responds to geological formations in an area known as Garden of the Gods in Southern Illinois. Specifically, the place known as Cave-in-Rock that overlooks the Ohio River and the Natchez Trace. Throughout the nineteenth century, Cave-in-Rock was the seasonal home of generations of highwaymen and river pirates, who escaped detection within the inner cave. I am grateful for Otto A. Rothert’s excellent regional history, The Outlaws of Cave-in-Rock (1924). The quotes in part two are adapted from a letter by the British Astronomer Francis Baily, dated April 16, 1797, detailing his visit to Cave-in-Rock.

___________________________________________________
Lindsay Tuggle grew up in Alabama, Kentucky, and Kansas. She moved to Australia ten years ago, and now lives in Austinmer. She has written poetry for most of her life, though she only began writing for publication a few years ago. Lindsay is interested in the relationship between language and place, especially vanished or vanishing places: those that exist now only in the memories of the people who once lived there. Her poetry has been published in HEAT and as part of The Red Room Company’s Dust Poems and Unlocked projects. In 2009, her work was awarded second prize in the Val Vallis Award for Poetry.

Jumanji
a group poem

Trunk packed and ready for nowhere,
Manuscript tells stories in spots and dashes called songs.
Song list on the lampbase doubling as a microphone,
The man looks lonely and lost
As though he’s taken one last look before leaving
It reminds me of Jumanji.
What is the lion doing in the house with a police hat on?
The light is on and it’s already daytime.
The boundary line between the man and the lion:
The antique collector’s lounge.
__________This is one scary cat.
__________He dominates the room.
This is the lion’s domain,
The man is his pet
It’s a jungle in there,
_____This strange man’s den.
Cat in a hat.
There’s a dog wearing a cop hat.
The dooryard echoes of an open suitcase.

_____________________________________________________
The John Morony Correctional Complex is located 5 km south of Windsor. A group of students from the Intensive Learning Centre took part in the Unlocked project, with poet Lindsay Tuggle. Their poems are collected in the Unlocked Anthology.