September 27, 2006

In the Middle of the Bottle is
a Little of the Way You Talk



Lee Lozano, Lean, 1966.

Dear Reader
-- by Kim Addonizio

Tonight I am amazed by all the people making love
while I sit alone in my pajamas in a foreign country
with my dinner of cookies and vodka. And I am amazed
that my own country still exists, though I am not in it
to speak its language or break its drug laws. How astonishing

to realize that I am not the glass being shattered
on the street below, or the laughter that follows it;
I'm not even one of the congregation on my small TV,
getting the Lord's good news, though I can reach
the screen by leaning forward, and touch

the wavering line of each transfigured face. I tell you
I can't get over it sometimes, I still have trouble
believing that an egg deep inside my own body
went and turned into someone else, who right now
is on a tour boat on the river, having forgotten

how she used to hold on to my legs whenever I tried
to leave the room. Right now, somewhere I am not,
the history of the world is being decided,
and the terrible things I'd rather not think of
go on and on without stopping, while I separate

the two halves of another cookie and lick
the creem filling, and pour myself one more
and drink to you, dear reader, amazed
that you are somewhere in the world without me,
listening, trying to hold me in your hands.

Tempo Records
-- by David Hernandez

That record store huddled against the corner
of town held all the treasures a moody boy
ever wanted. Fifteen bucks in his pocket meant
a fifteen minute drive to Tempo, meant greeting
Sara behind the counter with Hey, and Sara

replying Hey, her hair dyed so black it turned
to blue felt by the window. Nowhere else
would he have found that Pavement EP,
those four songs he memorized like hymns.

Or the Grifters’ One Sock Missing, blasts
of static from Memphis, damaged melodies
the boy sang in his car, hummed in his room.
In the back, a black door closed and paint-
chipped, bright stickers slapped on haphazardly.

A black door and skinny Jay behind it,
rolling a joint. At the register the boy slid
the Spoon CD toward Sara, pulled out
the crumpled five and ten, two speakers

nailed to the walls of the store thumping
with the sound of Russell Simmons mugging
his drum kit. Sara’s eyes bloodshot
from who knows what and the boy’s
studying the crisscross of his shoelaces.

Sara wearing despair on her face like blush
and the boy wearing it like a jacket, shoulders
hunched from the weight of it. But the tunes
helped, guitars chainsawing the quiet helped.

And that was six winters ago. That boy
hung up that jacket. That record store emptied
for the Veterinary Clinic that took its place,
for the sick cats, the broken winged parrots,
all those howling dogs waiting for treatment.

Power
-- by Adrienne Rich

Living in the earth-deposits of our history

Today a backhoe divulged out of a crumbling flank of earth
one bottle amber perfect a hundred-year-old
cure for fever or melancholy a tonic
for living on this earth in the winters of this climate.

Today I was reading about Marie Curie:
she must have known she suffered from radiation sickness
her body bombarded for years by the element
she had purified
It seems she denied to the end
the source of the cataracts on her eyes
the cracked and suppurating skin of her finger-ends
till she could no longer hold a test-tube or a pencil

She died a famous woman denying
her wounds
denying
her wounds came from the same source as her power.

Glitter
-- by John Tranter

Another fuckwit drops into the dustbin
of history, just as we're finishing our coffee.
Some of us are meant to burn out, is that
right? Like roman candles, across the night sky.

I want to go up like a tree, not a rocket.
I'd like to get drunk disgracefully
with a favorite neice, and grow old
among an amplitude of footnotes.

Pour me another Pernod, Famous Poet, and
tell me again about the doomstruck literati,
those dropouts immortalized in ink -- your
thirst, your secret greed, your mausoleum.

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