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






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



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



I am


of the testicles.

As a result


swims for its life

and expires.

But before that

it cries

in a garden

under water.



there are other

crying, swimming


and beautiful




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.



come and get it.


have a treat.

The ball-

of-yarn clichť

is Disinterestedís



I am my own

dish rag.


I am my own

bent spoon.


I am of the nostrils

and as a result


get sucked

into mazes.


attack me,

and always

it amazes,

but always

I prevail,

for I am of


ball-of-confusion clichť,

and I do creep.


For I can swim


the wood

grain, for I

can cry


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


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.



between us

there is friction

in the kitchen,

and thus

we roast

a sea bass

or thus

we cook

a stew.



we make our


into what

she said

and what

I didnít say.



there are words:


I am of the heart,

the kind with wings,

the inefficient

splattered kind,

the heart

with its agenda



to the world,

the heart

with its notions

about new kinds

of birds

and yanking

those wisdom teeth



I am of the toy chest,

treasure chest,


ear drumÖ






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


for love.


In the endó

is it the end?


I am of the sincerest


and best wishes




also pronouncements

unbelievable and long


and disagreeables

living in the same

parking lot,


like a litter

of squirmy

new kittens

and a hearse.



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



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


and how to undo it


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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