On the news, white flags of surrender
fleck the country side
to mark the bodies; metal, soft fabric
in equal amounts bent and woven
through foreign flora: charged green shoots,
blossoms at the tips like blue-bulbed street lamps.
I had just hung up the phone, a friend calling to talk,
but with forced topics, not a breath in between,
avoiding all she wanted
to say, as I’ve done many times before; as, I think,
we’ve all done. I felt that crick of regret and changed
the channel: a scientist began explaining microscopic level,
that mysterious plane where, as he stated,
nothing ever touches.
It’s mentioned as casual as a sneeze after meeting someone
or crossing a bridge with graffiti I swore I sprayed.
It’s a simple peony at the supermarket, thousands just like it,
held by a woman (unsure of name) who I knew like a mother, it seems,
in the early 20th century, one or two lifetimes ago.
The memories are clipped, though—missing dialogue and smells,
with just a few hazy snapshots illuminated, lost. But I
try to articulate like a good human—“Partial perception”
as a psychologist once claimed, as if there is a whole, an all-knowing that—
oh, forget it—from what I remember, the spray paint was blue, not red,
and it was a bridge two counties over, at least thirty minutes from here,
next to that field splayed with Heather, possibly Iris,
all blooming like a mnemonic device—one used to remember
a lock combination, a long-dead fern in the corner.
Today feels like what the girl opening the coffee shop
must feel when she sees the door
crowbarred at 6 am, register gone, a single bite from a croissant.
Or the mailman at 3 pm, caught in a midafternoon storm,
ringing his socks out, shaking his head dry on my porch.
And evening, all its damn cars.
My friends and I used to steal cars
and leave them in fields. We’d bring girls out there
and drink and kiss and piss on the bumpers. Then
leave them—the cars and the girls.
There seemed to be more day-moons back then.
It was like the moon was confused, early for an appointment
and forced to sit over there, by that cloud,
looking down at the day, wondering what all the fuss was about.
Should I take a word and throw it on the train tracks,
or take the line
from some poem I tossed years ago,
sitting it on a horse
and slapping its ass off to the sunset?
Should I take everything I’ve ever chiseled
and trace my hand over each page
and call the exhibit
The Terrible Turkey Army?
What does it mean? they’d ask.
I’d laugh and sign a girl’s chest—
Me, the rock star amongst the obvious—
the inexplicable god
that forgets his own name.
Getting to Know You
The title of the article read: “Some Words that Men are Likelier to Know than Women:
Claymore, Scimitar, Solenoid, Dreadnaught. Some Words that Women are Likelier to Know
than Men: Taffeta, Flouncing, Bodice, Progesterone.” I smirked and you asked, from across
the table, what was so funny. I, firmly mired in my head, ran through the words. Claymore: sword, explosive, check.
Scimitar: not a clue. Solenoid: absolutely not. Dreadnaught, ah yes, big ship, big cannons,
war, check. You had already gone back to your paper, stirring coffee and tearing toast—
so, two out of four. On to Taffeta: yes, I remember that, silk-like stuff, your mother spoke of it.
Flouncing: spastic movements, right? Flailing limbs? But before I get to the last two I notice you
left the table,
plate and cup gone, chair pushed in, with only the paper left folded in half to a headline:
“The Dark Side of Meditation.” I tossed the paper on the kitchen counter, near a window
where I saw you getting in your car, face white as the snow on the hood, and then rummaged
for a dictionary and flipped to S—to know what a man is supposed to know, then maybe,
what you’re supposed to, as well.