I couldíve sworn there was something I needed to tell you
but now I only feel my face and neck burning
in the tumult of a bright sunlit afternoon
Iím wearing a t-shirt and jeans, not a suit and tie,
and nobody seems to care that itís green-y late April,
††††††††††† all of them sleeping through my lecture on Spring
Thatís also when I realize that the motorcycle cop, up fast††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††† behind me on my way to work this morning, was a bad
omen†††† After that, even James Schuyler couldnít save the day
ďHis poems,Ē I said, ďare beautiful and shy, full as my eyes
††††††††††† are full of dogwood blossoms and fog-radio voices
not catalytic converters and omelets for breakfast (when simple
††††††††††† scrambled eggs will do)Ē†††† ďIn a dream, I loved a girl,
but she exploded,Ē said my friend Scott Dennis, ďover
and over†††† It was all very innocent, but how distraught
††††††††††† it made meĒ†††† I have a feeling, and this is me again
speaking in the present, that Iím failing vividly, or Iím not enough
revelated, or Iím just not†††† The gloom inside me hits
the sidewalk, as the shit hits the firmament (and sticks there)
Iím no ostrich†††† I can take a punch†††† Mine is only one vision
of paradise tossed, a kind of asthmatic misery, a kind
of aesthetic grimace-ry†††† Welcome forbearance to the treehouse
††††††††††† of my disappearance, my delight in substance, my
barrel of walls†††† When my wallet falls out of my pocket,
I have (I realize suddenly) a million and a half things to lose
††††††††††† but not one of them is money, not one
of them matters in the eyes of the worldóI mean, that is, if
††††††††††† the world even has eyes, which it doesnít, or if
the world has a clue, which it never will, and by the world, there,
I almost mean God†††† Dear sir, I have a question, Do I sadden
myself, or is it You in charge†††† Among the bad
dreams of exploding true loves and bad omens of lawmen
††††††††††† and amid reports of another teenager missing
in Florida, another car bomb in Baghdad, these words,
a fragile construction, may in fact collapse on my head
††††††††††† at any minute†††† For Christís sake, somebody
††††††††††† give us a break††††† itís Spring
That the elephantís upon me is no accident.
Iíve been wishing this big game on myself
for a long time, reinforcing the floors,
marking clearly the exits.† So come on out,
Loxodonta africana/ Elephas maximus,
I know youíre in here.† What is it you want
to talk about?† Ponderous participles, clumsy
quotations? Iíve been putting you off for weeks,
but now youíre too much?† Let the games begin.
Iíve already told you Iím terrible at anything
that involves strategic thinking.† But did you know
that in the Chinese version of chess thereís a game-piece
modeled on you?† I canít remember whether
itís the knight or the rook, but sometimes it runs amok
across the board trampling everyone, including
the royal family and the human cannonball.
Anyway, Iím sorry.† Youíd be better off playing
the poachers.† At least they engage the text and con-
jugate correctly.† If you want to find them
theyíre over in that white space just off to the left.
Today theyíre disguised as crows, tomorrow
gazelles or delirium tremens.† People say elephants
never forgetóis this true?† I donít forget much either,
and I believe everything I hear, to boot.† But with you
is remembering always knowing how to walk tail-in-trunk
with your fellows in a circle, or do specific instances
pop uncontrollably into your head, like having giant
ears as a kid and being called Dumbo, or
the night your mother sacrificed herself
so that you could escape from the fire? †Hey, Elephant,
are you still with me?† You might as well keep
staying at my place.† At least here youíre safe
from predators, and no poacher, even out of his mind,
would expect to find you living in a row house
in inner city Ohio.† You like it here donít you?
With your view of the skyline.† With your tusks
in their place.† Elephant, my little secret, you arenít
even pink.† Thank you for coming to my party.
To the People Who Know Me Better, Let Me Say in My Defense
I am of the mind
I am of the gut
and then glued
to a wall.† Or
to the bottom
of a birdcage,
I am the shadows
of things in space.
no more birds.
is a big holy
of the testicles.
As a result
swims for its life
But before that
in a garden
there are other
no more birds.
has some meat
on it. The dog
dotes.† The cat
takes a bath.
She is what
I call Disinterested.
come and get it.
have a treat.
I am my own
I am my own
I am of the nostrils
and as a result
for I am of
and I do creep.
For I can swim
grain, for I
under the stars,
of all facts,
for I have done
of the bed sheets,
the rabbit hole,
the sewer hole,
the Epsom Salts.
become the dogs
I have left.
When I hurt
my love hurts
itís worse, almost
a new breath
and give it
do the same
In this way,
on one another.
But in other ways,
of the difference.
there is friction
in the kitchen,
a sea bass
we make our
I didnít say.
there are words:
I am of the heart,
the kind with wings,
with its agenda
to the world,
with its notions
about new kinds
those wisdom teeth
I am of the toy chest,
I have a key
to a door
in the Bahamas.
I have a makeshift
in a glass.
look at my chassis
and I will look
at your under carriage,
will be alright.
Twist these hairs
In the endó
is it the end?
I am of the sincerest
and best wishes
unbelievable and long
living in the same
like a litter
and a hearse.
isnít a fan
of my kittens,
but I will defend
them at all costs.
For I am of the mind
than the heavy
truth of creamó
and then I change
I am of a new sort,
one that hasnít even
been invented yet,
one that will cover
the dance floor
that will sing
in the surf.
I am pleading
with the surf
to respond in kind.
I am pleading
with the dance floor
In the endó
is it the end?
No, itís only
and I am very new
to this sort
how to dust a landscape,
how to build a q-tip.
how to be
of the world outside
and also of this one
I found in a drawer.
You who know better,
how to do this
and how to undo it
how to go
what measures to take.
The sky is full of words.
I am awaiting
Matt Hart is a co-founder and editor of Forklift Ohio: A Journal of Poetry, Cooking, & Light Industrial Safety. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Butcher Shop, The Canary, and Ploughshares, among other journals, and can be seen in such online journals as Diagram, H_NGM_N, and Typo. A chapbook of his work, Revelated, was just published this Fall by Hollyridge Press. His first full-length book of poems, Who's Who Vivid, is forthcoming from Slope Editions. He teaches writing and aesthetics at the Art Academy of Cincinnati.
Archived at http://lit.konundrum.com/poetry/hartm_poems.htm