Richard Loranger: Two Poems
Selected by Alexis Rhone Fancher, Poetry Editor
MILITARY HUSBAND JAW SONNET
I stir my store-bought yogurt
tiredly over the sink,
watching the pre-formed cup-shape
held by the viscous sweet-sour glop
dissolve under the churning steel of the spoon.
It rises first in a peak well past the lip of the cup –
I think of glaciers and glacial ridges –
then plummets backward into cream.
I’m not worried about the possibility
that it could crest the lip and drop,
leaving me with a splattered mess instead of breakfast.
Later in life I drive my beat-up old van
across the beach and into the ocean,
just because I always wondered
what that would feel like.
The ad on my Android reads:
“Military Husband Jaw Dropped
After Seeing Her Transformation”.
I pause for a moment over that missing “’s”,
wondering whether its absence might be a result of
rushed work, vernacular, or purposeful manipulation,
but I am mostly taken by the photo below
of a well-known Black American actress,
at least well-known by those aware of Black American actresses,
who is also noted for being a proud woman of size.
Beneath her glowing face the ad continues:
“Husband didn’t even recognize his wife
after returning from Afghanistan……..”,
followed by a red “Read the Story” button
and the TIME® Magazine logo without the ®.
Since this woman is not actually a “military wife”
but in fact a gorgeous Black American actress of size,
I wonder what her fictitious husband had supposedly
been doing in Afghanistan, exactly what transformation
had purportedly occurred, and whether that dropped jaw
was meant to be a sign of good or bad things to come.
I don’t click on the ad.
Later that day I read that a local sports team
has once again won the championship,
and that cheering crowds have taken to the streets,
overturning cars, smashing store windows, looting
and destroying property, and setting things on fire.
They are presided over by hordes of the local constabulary,
who, coincidentally, just the week before,
had presided over a large protest and street action
involving many of the same residents in much the same location,
at which time they had controlled the crowd with
flash-bangs, tear gas, shields, beatings, and mass arrests.
On this occasion, however, they are hanging back,
and some can even be seen cheering along with the crowd.
It is their team too, after all.
And another car lights up, another car owned
by a struggling working class man who depends on it
to feed his family, a man who might be in that crowd himself.
Just because it gives you a hard on
doesn’t mean you should do it.
WE SING AND RISE
text from an installation in a reading space
rise tide sister into shimmer field
embrace sacrum language or risk rift
breathe now and stride
rise fire brother with filament matrix
bring blossoms but shout fracas vibe
study can revive sanity
rise earth animal for intricate time
drum conflict reveal if ardent strive
watch nerve crisis signs
rise living sentinel of care harbor
simmer sentient egg conundrum and celebrate
lift eye to nest
rise breeze winding through sense canyon
release need tensions when will powers
form new culture junction
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Richard Loranger is a multi-genre writer, performer, musician, visual artist, and all-around squeaky wheel, currently residing in Oakland, CA. He is the founder of Poetea, a monthly literary conversation group. His newest book is Unit of Agency (Collapse Press October 2021). He’s also the author of Be A Bough Tit, Sudden Windows, Poems for Teeth, The Orange Book, and ten chapbooks, and has work in over 100 magazines and journals. Before COVID, he curated the reading series Babar in Exile, and the queer talk and reading series #we; he is considering restarting Poetea and #we once we can all be safely in rooms together. You can find more about his work and scandals at www.richardloranger.com.