Two Poems By Thomas Devaney

by Mark Bibbins, Editor

Baby Black Bear

My little brother Joe looks up and says bear.
He is nearly three and up on all his animals.
How many other words does he know?
Yes, I say, “Bear. Excellent.” But no, Jesus no.
It is a bear. A small cub, but a bear all the same.
I am watching Joe. There is a bear. This is not good.
And where is Mama bear? There is blood in the mouth
When I think of a mother who has lost her child.
And Joe sits like a baby in an old painting. He sits
And seems to know all. Kids these days are so smart.
They have bears for friends and super absorbent diapers.
But the world is wet. There is a primal plea, a ponderous one,
One that broadcasts the body. And Joe has lost it, or found it,
Either way he’s shaking his shit down at the lake.

The Death of Erik Satie

He was not alone.
He was alone.
He was not alone.
A finger scratching his whiskers,
not exhaling.
Not not exhaling,
but inhaling.
He didn’t know
he was alone,
it would have confused him
though he’d entertained the thought,
as he was, and knew
what that meant.
The room one sleeps in
and works in
and that we can emerge from.
The thematic tones
that never make it
into the story of a life.
There were twitches,
his cup of coffee
in his hands
triggered one clear note
in his chest.
Inhaling not exhaling,
the body readies itself,
intransigent to the end.

Thomas Devaney is the author of two poetry collections, A Series of Small Boxes (Fish Drum) and The American Pragmatist Fell in Love (Banshee Press), and a nonfiction book, Letters to Ernesto Neto (Germ Folios). Recent poems have been published in The Brooklyn Rail and Jacket, and his essay “The Obscure Object of Desire” was published in the catalogue for Virgil Marti’s Set Pieces exhibition (2010–11) at the Institute of Contemporary Art. He teaches at Haverford College and is the editor of ONandOnScreen (poems + videos). His website is here.

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