Saturday, April 10, 2010

Poem: "The Costumer"

This past Wednesday was another PPLP Hoot Night--I started going last month (I'd been "meaning" to go for about 2 years). Last month I made sure to put myself on the list, and my poem, "Breakfast Letters" seemed to be well received. This time I read "The Costumer," from a series of poems about the circus set roughly in the end of the 19th century, beginning of the 20th. I only have about 5 poems in this series, but I want to expand upon them, and I'd really love for them to become a book with illustrations.

I've been looking for someone to work with on this, but the one time I tweeted about it, I got a direct message from someone who wanted to know what my budget was. Maybe I don't know how people are supposed to go about this, but I had hoped I'd find someone that wanted to collaborate--a poem of mine would inspire them to create piece of visual art, and they would be working on the same project, maybe creating a painting of a bearded lady, or an acrobat, or even an animal, and that would inspire me to write a new poem for the project. I want an artistic give and take! But it would have to be someone whose work was bit dark and quirky--not realistic. And it would most likely end up being self-published. But I think the market for that work is there! I really do! Ah, well--I'll keep up my search. Anyway, here's the poem:

The Costumer
by Cyndle Plaisted Rials

The seams must be just so. The sequins
must be placed in such a way
that they catch the pink and yellow light
perfectly while Lena rides bareback, her little blue
slippers pointing out, so Hans sparkles
like a shooting star when he flies
out of the cannon. I don’t ask questions
about burn marks, hook holes, blood stains
in costumes. I sew and wash the skin
they get to wear then shed
every night. I care for their fabric personae,
outfits that look bodied
on their hangers in my costume car.
They sway and dance over trestles,
they bump and mingle when we stop. I saw
two holding wrists
last night—it happens occasionally. I know
these costumes better
than I know their wearers, better
than they know me. I know
their measurements, could commission
a coffin for any of them—jugglers, clowns,
aerialists, dancers. The ringmaster’s
dimensions I once knew. Now he prefers
to maintain even that mystery, wearing
store-bought clothes, laundering
and mending his sumptuous silk cravat
—red— the fine black coat with tails
and smooth satin lapels. I am
no longer permitted even the pleasure
of washing his collars and cuffs, the fabric
at the pulse points.

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