Dan Kaplan Poems



The Weight of Paper


Preoccupation with bureaucracy

or better yet equation of my name

with what I deem anotherís fate: no, these

donít eat at me although a paperweight†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

collection by my indiscriminate

mail slot smothers anything that claims I owe††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

more than seventy-six ticks a minute

or my mother a visit and Jell-O mold.


Billing flamingos tinted in. A flowered †††††††††††††††††††

obelisk. Dark quartz with yellow veins.††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

Oval. Conical. The Eiffel Tower.††††††††††††††††††

Bar charts. Additions. My stark minimums.

The Sphinx is always so quick†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

off its stack. I know when I am licked.





Billís Dream


Ordinarily I wouldnít mention it ††††††††††††††††

but this has been a draining week.

I havenít once dreamed

anything of consequence.


But that can be draining too, week

after week of dreams that make††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

everything of consequence:

a chicken in orbit, an armless orchestra.


So after weeks of dreams of making it

with Kim Novak in Vertigo,

a chicken in orbit and an armless orchestra

tumble into dream like sweaty strangers.††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††


Because with Kim Novak in Vertigo

the dream is clean, sketched:†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

a tumble with a dreamy, sweaty stranger.

Pinch yourself. Youíre dreaming.††††††††††††††††††††††††††††


But sketchy dreams really clean you out.

Maybe all dreams are that way. Maybe Kim didnít deliver,

which puts you in a pinch:††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

was it simply you in Jimmy Stewartís well-pressed suit?†††††††††††††††


Dreams are that way. Kim didnít deliver††††††††††††††††

and surely you didnít pluck her from that steeple anyway.††††††††††

It was simply you in Jimmy Stewartís suit, well pressed

to reckon why Kim wore a snorkel in bed.†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††


You donít have the pluck for Kim anyway. Sure, you stipulate††††

waking from dreams is like losing a rough argument,†††††††††††††††††††

but reckoning why Kim wore a snorkel in bedó

or was it a rubber nose? a camo negligee?ó


is the rough wake from the dream, the lost argument.††††††††††††††††††

What argument? What are you arguing about anyway? A dream?

A rubber nose? A camo negligee?

Who are you arguing with?


Anyway, a dream is like an argument

you couldnít dream up,

the one where youíre arguing with someone

you wouldnít ordinarily mention this to.




Hammocked, Bill


I wave them on and still the clouds donít act,

just bare their hairline fractures like victims

of an authorless crime, an atmospheric

crash. Letís just leave it at that. These cosmic

types are everybodyís star witnesses.

In this stratosphere, Pluto may be little

more than a chalk outline, but the battered

cumulonimbus is this close to giving

up Tropical Storm Edgar, which never

even touched it. And thatís vindication

under the bright lights, thatís evidence.

Some will spill guts for a cup of java

or gust of wind in the interrogation

room. Anything at all to build a case.






Dan Kaplanís chapbook Skin, a letterpress, bilingual edition produced in collaboration with Cuban artist Julio Cesar PeŮa and translator Maria Vargas, is due from Red Hydra Press in 2005. Work recently appears or is forthcoming in Meridian, Spinning Jenny, Forklift, Ohio, Third Coast, Pool, Good Foot, and others. These poems are from Billís Formal Complaint.






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