17

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lifted

my imitation poem is modeled off of this sonnet by Denis Johnson.

Heat
(by Denis Johnson)

Here in the electric dusk your naked lover
tips the glass high and the ice cubes fall against her teeth.
It’s beautiful Susan, her hair sticky with gin,
Our Lady of Wet Glass-Rings on the Album Cover
streaming with hatred in the heat
as the record falls and the snake-band chords begin
to break like terrible news from the Roling Stones,
and such a last light - full of spheres and zones.
August,
you’re just an erotic hallucination
just so much feverishly produced kazoo music,
are you serious? -- this large oven impersonating night
this exhaustion mutilated to resemble passion,

the bogus moon of tenderness and magic
you hold out to each prisoner like a cup of light?

First
(my imitation)

here in the spinning dust of lonely factories
and chipped glass containers your naked lover
moves quietly across the deserted breakroom floor,
returning to where you lie.  It’s beautiful adam

smelling like cigarettes and sunshine, he sits down
next to you drawing a line across the dusty tiles
with his fourth finger, looking at you for the next one.
it’s only then the ticking song of forgotten machines

begins to rise up, licking at the turned down cuffs
of your white socks, pulling you back to the bottles
and the fine ground sand that’s stuck to the bottoms
of your hands and thighs, drawing your stare to the circles

you have just drawn, making you watch
as the lines jump off the floor and over your head.

…..........................................................................................


spring peepers
(song on repeat poem)

bonfires, long bryers catching at the seams of your jeans
it’s thursday in summer and the tall grass around you clicks
as it shrinks away from the young flames you’re feeding

as the stars come out and the chirping frogs begin to sing together
peeking through the gaps in your circle, you pile more wood
on the flames and think about the tree that they came from.

…..........................................................................................


saved
(persona poem)

it’s not as if the feelings don’t tickle at my toes
and start climbing up toward my ankles
like tiny mountaineers, tapping
their miniature ice picks into my open pores

it’s just that I don’t let them go any further
no matter how quickly the tingling pricks
begin to stick into my frozen skin.  they cannot
climb beyond the sheer face that is my kneecap
nor can they trek across the barren plains beyond.

we don’t pick our certainties, but luckily I know
those ice cleats can only lead to trouble
and I cannot follow them because their tracks
stop long before salvation

…..........................................................................................



perennial
(refrain)

It can’t have been long before the
flood of 77 that she found that big sunflower
growing on the railroad tracks
behind Sam Lautner’s crumbling old grain elevator
and cut it down.

I only say so because I remember watching
thousands of seeds float away when the water rushed
through the door frame where the sunflower
was hanging upside down to dry
and pulled it down.

but that sunflower had been growing every year
on those tracks since I could remember.
suppose it couldn’t have been there long before
the old dixie plant shut down, or else the running trains
would have knocked it down

but as I said that’s long before i could remember.
Ever after that day she collected sunflower stuff
trinkets and boxes, a little light switch cover
where the petals on the plastic flower closed as the
switch was flipped down

after she left I just wanted to get rid of all that shit
inflatable sunflower bath pillow and whatnot
but as I drove to the dump I passed the tracks
it was dusk, almost closing time and I saw that old flower
head turned down

against the lonely night.

…..........................................................................................

Springwater night
(celebration poem)

for some reason half of what I remember from that night
is trying to sneak away
even though you were at the center of everything
playing
tripping
attracting

the attention of every girl there, which didn’t make sense to me at the time
because you’re so short

with the fire burning matty crying from joy and drugs
sophie griping sean smoking mike knocking things over
and all the while 2 guitars and a shitty harmonica
melting into the sound of crickets in the forest
only you could have made me want to leave

when we finally did get away
we tripped through the weeds and darkness
just to get lost on the trail I knew best

and as we gave up
lying there in the night talking about how you shouldn’t have kids
because you’d done way to many drugs
it didn’t matter where we were
or that everyone knew
or that you didn’t love me

I wanted to say fuck kids.
let’s have a life of fires and harmonicas
forests and friends
crickets and great escapes
and let’s be together

thank you for that.

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