Five poems by Julie E. Bloemeke

Updated: Aug 15

Slide to Unlock

after the iPhone entry screen, 20072016

Caught in the present tense,

we are continuously poised

to receive its three-word

command, the insistence

we open with a fall:



we unknowingly slip

into habit, press

our print from left

to right, unaware

of what uninvited

light will bow our heads.

When this trinity opens

our bodies, we respond

with our curious hands.

We no longer read the words.

A call expects an answer, a dark

screen, a touch. We are undone

by the promise of resolution,

temptation. Once, we could depend

on the corded spiral of miles,

delay ourselves with the orbit

of finger wheel, change

the exchange with a switch

hook. We could even leave

the rotary to ring, unheard

in the absence. Then, we

housed it for distance,

carving an alcove

into the wall.

Hold the line, we said.

Now, we are keyed constant,

pocketing names, waking

to flashes, feeling through the dark

before we open our eyes,

our cells carrying

the call of possible.

There is no signal

to prepare us

for the arrival

of that unresolved name,

its bright trick of letters.

It arrives after decades of silence,

the demand for an answer

so pressing it stings a vibration,

its invisible stigmata left

in our unsuspecting palms,

an irrevocable consequence

of reach out and touch someone.

Côte d’Azur, Seventeen Years Later

after Claude Monet’s “Antibes Seen From La Salis,” Toledo Museum of Art

It begins in gold, this pointing

upward of leaves. How the branches

rise, propose an unseen union.

Note the olive tree, the hidden

live in its name, the way it arrives,

mouthed, silent, as I love.

Wonder about the couple, left unpainted,

how we imagined ourselves

then, stippled as a tangle in the grass,

kept from Monet’s canvas. How we held

this vision in our years of absence: the tinge

of me inseparable from the mark of you.

What Monet said of this place: it was impossible

to paint without gemstones, its beautiful madness

a fairy tale of air and light.

Listen to the dazzle of that waiting city,

the way it calls us to believe. How we want

to dismiss the story, drown innocence

in the sea below. After seventeen years, a quarry

of space between us, I return to this landscape.

I open my hand to a fairy tale of air and light—

expect only memory, not the sudden slide

of your fingers, taking mine, or how we paint

ourselves here, again, into the impossible.

Rotary Ode


the receiver


in its cradle

where an answer

could remain.


the rotary

where without

the ring

we could not


if the call

even was.

It was easier,

then, to lie


our absences.

How we could

pick up

with silence,

blame the line,


to our name,