Contamination – A Poem By Jane Ormerod


Contamination by Jane Ormerod


Do you travel by arrangement?

Tip your hat at the perfectly shod?

Here is the father you will soon plead to kill


Instrumental eyeglasses

A turn for the worst and the possible

Trappings, goose droppings, matchbooks, scotch

and plain old water. Baited legs, a premature

announcement in the papers, immature swing

of an arm. A father who hates with all the cash,

vernacular, and culpability in the world

Guilt runs faster than delight


He is the father who begs both pardon and question

Who will rarely chat to a tennis player eating lamb chops

Who knows about people he has never met

and those you have never heard of

You are the heel, sole, and tricksy step of the playmate

You are the mother’s frillies and highballs

You are the needless to say

The two hour wait at a bus stop with a cigar,

newspaper, some wasted perambulation

Interest always vested, suited, mono


Do you travel by arrangement?

Keep a European train schedule on your desk?

Did she file them just a smidgeon too short?

Why grip the reins when you are not moving?

Does the band always play on?

Did you even enter the Magic Isle?


Maybe you hold plans for later…

To call a cop, a doctor, help the elderly cross the street

Love your stirring hound like a child, or a goat, a cheese,

a log, an ice-box, a goal to get even


Huh huh huh, huh huh huh

Is your name well yes?


So how would you do it, Mrs. Cunningham?

How in the world would you do it?

Everything important fits about the neck


Mrs. Cunningham, we are both indecent

With what manner shall we proceed?

Share a nip of sleep?

Shake the pearls? Dust off those glad rags?

Do we have cold feet to defrost?

A horse to debug?

A flower to smell from Mars?

I am the car pulling up. I am the hostage situation,

the sound seeping from your neighbor’s headphones

Silk shadows dressing by the table, Ray’s Danbury Diner


Help me, Mrs. Cunningham! Help me!

Are you a smoocher or are you simply educated?

How many more times can you change your name,

and then make-believe we do not notice

how your personality is as crooked as ever?

Float to the ground like the lindy to cement


The richer you are, the smaller the teacup you drink from

I am your eyes now

There is undulation, a split of seemliness

The soothingness of paint

Allow someone else to crawl beneath the merry-go-round

Mrs. Cunningham, the arrow points in only one direction only

Mrs. Cunningham, draw yourself to here

This is the father of all nighttime

The sun remains a slut


“Contamination” first appeared in Sparring With Beatnik Ghosts.

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