Cezanne’s Still-Life with Skull, Candlestick, & Book
Poor Yorick would speak a speech about fucking and how to run balls-out into the sea; how the rose once moved
this way and that in the breeze and how the pages were always turning towards the better future (and they were)
yet there’s no light half as true as the guttered candle; that’s the luminousness around the shadow which is a fact
or something dope like that with memory’s stagecraft here stupefying all vanities— Jake Kennedy lives in the Okanagan, BC. He and his BFF, poetcomicartfool kevin mcpherson eckhoff, are compiling a collaborative community western novel entitled Death Valley.
Belmont Overture (Poem of Eight A.M.) It’s about settling down and settling in and trying not to settle for,
about three miles from the urban core, where the not-quite-wild bald turkey, looking so lost
and inquisitive next to the stop for the 74, peers into the roseless rosebush, up at the pointless oar
hung above one townhouse’s swept steps, and the U.S. and floral and nautical flags flaunt their calm semaphore.
Walking past them, today, with our stroller, we note as we pass the wreath of real twigs on our next-door neighbor’s door
and beside it another, not sold in any store, made of pipecleaners and plastic oak leaves. [...]
Summer in Its Individual Parts
You haven’t said more. It sits inside you like a wet package. The heat dissolves. Night comes in through French doors. It is all accompanied by people jabbering on cell phones, which is its own inhospitable forecast. Vans drive the street. I remember the movie we didn’t watch, the plot we didn’t laugh at.
Whichever of us likes an aquarium has some need for scale. Everyone watches the lengths of industrial glass where nothing is swimming. At night, I watch you watch the plaid in your sleep.
Lizards on trees. Wet birds jabbing at the air. Anything if it is disjunctive enough can sound [...]
It was obvious. By March 2011, I was not projecting into the fourth quarter.
That very day, several juvenile delinquents kicked the locks off the shed door where I lived and I dragged them
all in by the ears and showed them Magritte’s umbrella collection. Then, from behind the rusty chipper, I revealed my “associate”
while puffing on my own gentlemen’s brand of cigarillo.
How will I be able to keep you if you don’t disgust me a little? Why do you wear lipstick with trousers that are stained and stain?
At the end of the raspberry patch I found my own darling telephone hiding away like a little reservist. Why do you disgust me?
I can’t see the bridge any more. “You look like a Dutch interior.” “Then I guess I do know how pretty I am.” But it is not dark, it is very sunny.
For safety’s sake, the iron escape folds up from the ground. Bad limb that won’t go down, I’m asking for it, party clothes the all of what I own. Even this cat I can’t claim, wandered-in thing clawing the low tulle in the closet, the dress my every memory, the cat a flame in an ashcan, batting the fringe of the window hanging: this is trauma.
Either that, or this is romance. He lived in an enormous house for artists, sufficiently dark and malformed to suggest the interior space of the body, small peace and the snaps of fever and light: ALMOST HEAVEN, he said. I hope to [...]
First Letter to David Berman and John Hodgman
Dear David Berman and John Hodgman,
In Bulawayo the bon-bon trees laugh and dance and smile in the happy giggle sunshine pavilion as the candy corn fields blush and bloom.
In the late afternoon, school teachers in white paper cones decorate the white paper cones they’re wearing with potato prints of cornflowers stained with oolong flavorings.
I sit nearby pretending not to notice.
Would it surprise you to know I wore a barely discernible worldly half-smile?
I installed a park bench out in the bush beneath an acacia tree boiling with black leather squirrels the size of Jots and squinted my [...]
5 a.m. (4 a.m. EST)
The island from above Became a hook, gesturing. Filled with sounds, The shape of three fingers.
The family, bereft, Witness to the 5 a.m. The bruise-colored money left. The motorcade on the left.
The slit, a haiku: Focused, deep as a tap. To stab a man, To write a haiku.
Crimson almost-morning: The abettor. Bermuda has One more flower.
The Driver Says
Like eight darlings picking corn from their teeth. I know how this looks. Like Portuguese churches on the moon, the strong arm of a place where space moves behind time and a box of old Playboys is just how it feels. Getting knocked down by the white of a callery pear, mistaking London planes for sycamores. When you have been ruined by small events, waking up always feels like walking alone in a woods; there will be no mark from a glass of cold water on your bedside table and the sounds through an open window (crickets, a highway) will frame how little I care for you. [...]
Bitterness in the Mouth
When did the word for stranger and bitterness in the mouth come to mean a kind of audacity? I’ve seen in some men a distinctly American gall— they glide over the rest of us in their socks like we’re one long hallway and they’re late for a banquet in their honor. Shameless they tell us they’ve done us a favor. We needed polishing. They needed traction. Frotteurs work like this— we come away wondering if we’ve been screwed, gorge rising as a hard little stranger gets off. Leslie McGrath’s Opulent Hunger, Opulent Rage was a finalist for the 2009 Connecticut Book Award in poetry.
It’s hard to come back from a grand phase—
morning most difficult, its shadow a tucked-
under tail bringing us back to this century.
What century is it? I can’t see your hairstyle. Nuar Alsadir’s collection of poems, More Shadow than Bird, appeared in 2012, and she has new work forthcoming in Poetry London.
The poems never end, they go on and on and on and on. You may contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Excerpts from my difficulty telling jokes
A shadow of a penis walks into a bar. No. A bar realizes it’s a Rabbi. No. A pope shits on a bear. Yes. A pope shits on a bear. Now we need a new pope. We have the bloody pointy hat just not the pope. A bear walks into a bar and asks what goes with pope. Fries, of course. How many light bulbs does it take to screw in the dark? Four. One to be left on in your head, one in mine, one to be smashed against the dark husk of night in celebration when the humping and lowing is over, [...]
I am going to tell you who you are. That your voice, claimed as mine, will drown. I wonder about the weight of your voice versus mine. I wonder what it would feel like in my hands. Would it be a suitcase of mirrors or a glass box full of lead? Would it be a sheet on which you painted all of your wrong thoughts—the ones you had candidly in the night, behind your eyes, unuttered as your limbs twitched? It was a dreamless night. All the houses went black. Words are something that can be applied after the fact: the fact of two people crossing the street. [...]
High School: Industrial Arts
The lesson today is: someone always gets hurt. Will it be you or another fool? This is a choice. We provide the tools and materials. The saws, the wood, nails, and supervision. Fall not now in love, for it is merely a distraction from your assignment. Now, create this uninspired name plaque, build stacks of unstable shelves, lament your lack of craft as the heat of your lust forms in vaporous pools on the floor just below your work table. You thought this class would mean an easy credit. Welcome to our workhouse. No one leaves this building whole. Consider now how this building’s roof’s akin [...]
Fire Island Song
It would be nice if you weren’t dead, you with your hair and skin flame-red and your way of getting me in bed. It would be nice if you weren’t dead.
It’s not time’s fault or even fate’s, though this second claim demands debate: Too many dead to live, you nearly said. You savored dread. You liked where it led.
You let death happen with your drinks and drugs, your tour of all the high points of despair. You were a living cigarette. You blistered and burned down. You let me down. This grates.
green bulb green eye green red light hangs in the neighbor’s window green issue shakes out green rugging
vie lets I could verge you vices I could kiss
yellow honey of the knot yellow tail not the rumble
blue clear linden in your blue in fired blue car our first car blue fullness of fired pointed blue raving
orange flowers in the grove orange sun do I dare
red paper tonguing the sun red and full and then material red bird endlessly flying red bell heads Douglas A. Martin’s books include Once You Go Back (Seven Stories, 2009), Your Body Figured (Nightboat, 2008), and In the Time [...]
Brought To You By
take Coke Zero my white Apple charger this Old Grand-dad logo with its hair line sunken eyes hey & give hot potato skins a whirl they're good lunch conversation but just skins in the end & you can only dance so long around something till it dissolves in Zero most likely yes you'll be sipping on a glass if you want ice please call for rocks please sit back & that glow off the TV is kinda making you famous it's honestly making your head overshadow the far wall & everyone knows today's celebrities are only caught dead in Italian labels they wear their faces so loose in full sun Ben Purkert’s poems [...]
TERROR OF THE ZYGONS
Je sais bien, mais quand même.
This one they call the Doctor is a threat to us. Already he has found out too much. He must be destroyed. a very drab term Doctor comprises any passive attitude toward her oiled hand returned to my one, the Doctor, increasing her is she a threat until it popped out of us from the already. With each has, I found harder through too much. O, me alone! Extreme instance of which appears to be that in which threat is conditional upon suffering physical or mental much at the hands of the Doctor. The Doctor grew must and be as [...]
Someone No One Everyone Anyone
and I put all this blood in, but things just get sticky No one’s a mess anyone
wants to pick up after, so I marched my ass down to the shack that flashed
LIVE MODELS in red and asked if they needed someone good with light.
Everyone was bronzed and someone was covered in glitter.
“Here,” I said, “hold that glow
lower” and motioned to someone who shone a weird green
light too high the shadows made everyone’s eyes onstage look
like pulsing suckholes. Limbs in that angle
seem tentacled with darknesses. I tsked, “That’s no way to shine a body.” Paula Mendoza's poems have [...]
To Wendy from the Crow’s Nest — Portland
My Dear — If not from dream, before dawn, When the rain has not perished over the house, And you have sworn off four nights of sleep, And I have wrestled with a mind of airplanes and birth, And to know that you are leaving again in the morning, With me staying — or is it the other way around, Me leaving, and you staying, or both of us Boarding another flight to a strange city? — And always, too, both of us wondering If any of this exists, sleep, skies, birth, Mumbling in the frontiers of hotel rooms, Hauling our slender [...]