It's impossible for me to go to a grocery store without rushing through the place, conspicuous with its excess of choices, packed to the gills with people slowly drifting amongst products that represent what it means to be free in America. I know this isn't a very original idea. Believe me. I'd rather it not be so. I found myself stuck in the dairy/bread aisle amidst people slowly counting the minutes until death--one woman checked every brand of sour cream available, encamped there. I'll never know if she bought one because ten minutes later, when I streamed by, she was still moored there, ecstatic that she lives in a country where you can spend your golden years choosing between Breakstone and Country Fresh brands of sour cream. I'm hopelessly stuck in the version of shopping--call it a scene-- you'll likely some day run across in a Coen Brothers movie. Maybe it exists already, but if not it will some day soon. I don't even have to explain this scene--you know what I'm talking about. I'm thinking right now of the scene in A Serious Man where X is speaking on a phone with a representative of the Columbia Record Club because his son, unbeknownst to him, has purchased a copy of Santana's Abraxas, and X is arguing desperately because he has no clue what the hell Abraxas even is. The voice on the phone repeats the word "Abraxas" seventy times. It's a terrifyingly funny moment. (I own a copy of Abraxas, tho the vinyl hasn't seen the light of day in a good twenty-five years.) So, that phone call reminds me why I have not had a land line in ten years, and why I had voice mail removed from my work phone.) Anyway, back to the present, all I know is I start deconstructing the culture I'm stuck in the second I walk into any store of any kind (I have not been to a mall since 1980). If you've taken a cab in New York City you have an idea how I push a cart through a grocery store. A student of mine, lacking lunch at his house, used to say he'd use a potato as a silencer (punch it over the end of his barrel) and shoot a squirrel before he'd sit idling in a line at a drive-through window (same sort of weird as above). That guy was so crazy!! people say to me once in a while, remembering him. He's in Alaska right now, with the mountains and pine trees. Doesn't sound bad to me. So, not a good trip to the store. I skipped the cottage cheese I often pick up because I was too wired about it all. Some days I should just sit by the river and see how many fish rise to the surface (it's very similar to watching for falling stars (if you're somewhere rural enough that the man-made light doesn't obliterate the starlight)).
More and more, warm weather, like steam in a kitchen, a brace of teals, her feet in what sun's fallen through, like cola with some flower drowning in dry grasses. This is what my father foretold, the end of winter like a trembling inside the smallest of eggs. A train invisible in the dark, shaking the stones, drinking in the headlight of moon, her breasts and a cool pillow, bats panting like old lost __lovers hooking their wings around the windows and porch screens, breeze through the eves troughs, her back like a swivel that clicks in the morning, before sunrise, the flowers outside shaking off dew. He said it, and they closed the lid. We don't want any more money.
You said it, short-seller, the built in __obsolescence Better to drop the whole plan-for-the-future __(out window) Drinking the mud off the money, sailing under __your shining The men stack up next to the women, and __they squeak This is why a house fire is so pleasurable __(after some time passes) Instead of a postage stamp an empty __podium Stood in that small space on my __envelope An intelligent Jerusalem cricket will give us __our confidence back I looked at my dying pear tree--it's going __to heaven Piles of monuments, the broken letter Q, __fiduciary self interest Let what fails invest, I say, dark in my own __guttering heart I said nothing when Millie rammed into my __little Honda
Author of eight books of poems, most recently The Coldest Winter on Earth (Marick Press). Also author of The Nervous Filaments (Four Way Books, 2010) and Orphan, Indiana (Akron, 2010). 2010
also saw the release of Sky Booths in the Breath Somewhere, the Ashbery Erasure Poems (BlazeVox), as well as The Other Life: the Selected Poems of Herbert Scott,(Carnegie Mellon)which I edited. My new book, Animalities, will be published in 2014 by Four Way Books.