February 19, 2010

ask the driver nicely
i need a lift, i need relief



Tauba Auerbac, Subtraction (Startling), 2007

Your Ass
-- by Lewis MacAdams Jr.

I study a deep, green painting
and dream of 'your ass'
I am sitting in this sidewalk cafe
trying to master
the lost music of Hank Johnson

Anything arbitrary is tough to choke down
a brown tin ashtray, black coffee
empty Greek cigarette pack

someone is here
he must have come down alone
wanting a drink of water

it is dangerous, he hoped
to write the new language
it is like a stringy westerner
from down the line
singing alone

the music of the country
doesn't "flare"
it sidles up like need
bow-legged
and coughing

it's as if there were a cow pony
behind me
he cries and is saying
the only word
he knows in my language
"your ass"
and it was taught
by Hank Johnson

Even that
saving grace
is now gone
wandering through the crowded room
bowing, awarding
the correct change
so being swallowed
like the old west itself
and the obscenities and cold water
of Hank Johnson


used book store
-- by charles simic

lovers hold hands in never-opened novels.
the page with a recipe for cucumber soup is missing.
a dead man writes of his happy childhood on a farm,
of riding in a balloon over lake erie.

a sudden draft shuts his book in my hand.
while a philosopher asks how is it possible
to maintain the theologically orthodox doctrine
of eternal punishment of the damned?

let's see. there may be sand among the pages
of a travel guide to Egypt of even a dead flea
that once bit the ass of the mysterious Abigail
who scribbled her name teasingly with an eye pencil.


Hometown
-- by Beth Woodcome

The shame in the church crawls out of each human. A mild sin grows first behind the ears.

The wind: it comes without thought or any use of my hands. My hair grows the same color as the red scarf covering a lamp. I’ve heard of women who lead men into a chamber that is stained like the pit of a cherry. Place something upon the tongue. Go in peace.

Pretending there is no time to stop and look at the old gravestones that lean south, my father keeps driving. The common is cold and blown clear of leaves. This is near Chocksett School playground where a German shepherd tore up my soft back. My father took me to the dog that night to let it smell me. I held it in my arms. We’re all bound to something.

The strain of the body in trauma stresses the heart muscle. When I come up for air, the wind fills my throat before I realize I want it to.

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