August 23, 2006

tourists intertwine in effortless lumps


Felicity Clear, The ineffable yearning of the city dweller for the countryside, 2006

Little Tricks of Linear B
-- by Diane Wakoski

The beginning was the dream,
and the voice was a turban gourd.
A strum.
What are we hiding?
Our new bodies
born underground with pearls of old corn?
Our dry husks
on the winter-hard ground/ where
is the moment
between wet rotting
and ashy desiccation? The beginning was
a dream.
But what country is shaped
like an ear of corn?
Which one like a bunch of grapes?
Which one, a pomegranate?
What map leads to the chrysalis nut?

Philadelphia
-- by Campbell McGrath

Late dinner at a dark café blocks from Rittenhouse Square, iron pots of mussels and Belgian beer and a waiter eager to snag the check and clock out. Such are the summer pleasures of his work—winding down to a glass of red wine, catching the windowed reflection of a girl as she passes, counting the take upon the bar, thick roll of ones and fives, palming the odd ten smooth against zinc and polished walnut, the comforting dinginess of American money, color of August weeds in a yard of rusting appliances, hard cash, its halo of authority, the hands’ delight in its fricatives and gutturals, its growl, its purr, gruff demotic against the jargon of paychecks on automatic deposit with social security deductions and prepaid dental, realism vs. abstraction, a gallery of modest canvasses, more landscapes than still lifes, steeples of the old city with masts and spars, a vista of water meadows with fishermen hauling nets in the distance, women collecting shellfish in wicker panniers. It yields enough to sustain us, after all, the ocean of the past. We’ve paid. The waiter pockets his final tip and throws down his apron and walks out into the warm night of dogs splashing in public fountains and couples on benches beneath blossoming trees and soon enough we follow, arm in arm across the cobblestones, looking for a yellow cab to carry us into the future.

retirement
-- by denis johnson

i would like to be just an old man with my gin,
retiring even from these leaves into
my big, gradual silence beyond the wood
and it will be good,
wife, because i have pointed to you,
and you have become real, within

this darker stillness my eyes grow too wide
it must be that seeing you in the trees
becoming softer than i ever dreamed
has made it all seem
a multitude of nonsense, all the seas,
the planets, all i wrote. i lied,

i swear to you i lied, becoming old and so
very drunk, when i did not lie to you.

The Bush Blues
-- by Bernadette Mayer

george bush is president
he wasn't elected
he ain't the peoples choice
what am i gonna do
it doesn't help to say fuck bush but
let's say it anyway
things've gotten so bad
i have a friend who wants to see
bush executed for treason

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