Matt Hart Poems

 

 

 

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

 

*

 

Elephant

 

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

and then

sadly insufficient.

 

I am of the gut

and then glued

to a wall.Or

 

plastered

like news

to the bottom

of a birdcage,

 

I am the shadows

of things in space.

 

There are

no more birds.

 

The sky

is a big holy

mouth.

 

I am

 

of the testicles.

As a result

something

swims for its life

and expires.

But before that

it cries

in a garden

under water.

 

Everywhere

there are other

crying, swimming

things

and beautiful

flowers,

simmering.

 

There are

no more birds.

 

My bone

has some meat

on it. The dog

dotes.The cat

takes a bath.

She is what

I call Disinterested.

 

Disinterested,

come and get it.

Disinterested,

have a treat.

The ball-

of-yarn clichť

is Disinterestedís

favorite.

 

I am my own

dish rag.

 

I am my own

bent spoon.

 

I am of the nostrils

and as a result

often

get sucked

into mazes.

Monsters

attack me,

and always

it amazes,

but always

I prevail,

for I am of

Disinterestedís

ball-of-confusion clichť,

and I do creep.

 

For I can swim

against

the wood

grain, for I

can cry

myself

to exhaustion

under the stars,

and, fact

of all facts,

for I have done

nothing wrong.

 

I am

 

of the bed sheets,

the rabbit hole,

the sewer hole,

the Epsom Salts.

 

My bones

become the dogs

of disinterest.

 

Two blue

feathers

are all

I have left.

 

When I hurt

itís bad,

but when

my love hurts

itís worse, almost

a hearse-hurt.

I take

a new breath

and give it

to her.

 

She would

do the same

for me.

In this way,

we rely

on one another.

 

But in other ways,

we are

of the difference.

 

Sometimes

between us

there is friction

in the kitchen,

and thus

we roast

a sea bass

or thus

we cook

a stew.

 

Sometimes

we make our

friction

into what

she said

and what

I didnít say.

 

Always

there are words:

 

I am of the heart,

the kind with wings,

the inefficient

splattered kind,

the heart

with its agenda

bringing

prescriptions

to the world,

the heart

with its notions

about new kinds

of birds

and yanking

those wisdom teeth

out.

 

I am of the toy chest,

treasure chest,

amplifier,

ear drumÖ

 

Listen.

 

Okay.

 

I have a key

to a door

in the Bahamas.

I have a makeshift

water lily

in a glass.

You can

look at my chassis

and I will look

at your under carriage,

and everything

will be alright.

 

Everybody needs

adjustment sometimes:

 

Twist these hairs

for lightning.

Tighten this

hinge

for love.

 

In the endó

is it the end?

 

I am of the sincerest

apologies

and best wishes

 

always,

 

also pronouncements

unbelievable and long

 

and disagreeables

living in the same

parking lot,

 

like a litter

of squirmy

new kittens

and a hearse.

 

Disinterested

isnít a fan

of my kittens,

but I will defend

them at all costs.

For I am of the mind

 

that belief

is better

than the heavy

truth of creamó

 

and then I change

my mind.

 

I am of a new sort,

one that hasnít even

been invented yet,

one that will cover

the dance floor

and one

that will sing

in the surf.

 

I am pleading

 

with the surf

to respond in kind.

 

I am pleading

 

with the dance floor

to commit.

 

In the endó

is it the end?

 

No, itís only

the sentimental

fadeout,

 

and I am very new

to this sort

of demonstrationó

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,

know more,

 

how to do this

correctly,

and how to undo it

perfectly,

how to go

about it

in history,

what measures to take.

 

Write me

about anything.

 

The sky is full of words.

 

I am awaiting

your reply.

 

 

**

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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