18 April 2008

Featured Poet: Jordan Stempleman


The infinite danger is that we grow more limbs
the longer we live, that soon,
standing outside, is someone

who we said the wrong things to
and they’re inconsolable, certainly capable
of shooting us to pieces or apologizing for failing
to remember our names.


There is a coiled rope, dogs from nowhere,
improvised chairs, good natured smoke
from a first floor window, a child-sized piano,
a wide, unheated basin filled with bobbing
shadows from a line of people walking out,
tasteless notes in terrible handwriting and
crude pictures that reveal what they say,
touchy subjects up for debate, a man down,
a man down, and I’m not saying quite enough.


I remember to laugh again when forced
to look at the unforced motion in maps.
Because you were asleep, I finished each
of your sentences, something I do when
you’re awake, and I’m truly sorry for.
I am living inside a car, and this car is pressed
to find someplace not that far away,
where I’ll eventually get out and say, you look nice,
to someone who really needs to hear it.
If I saw that you had nothing to eat and I called
what was missing, packaged goods, it’s there
you could find the specific beginnings of my
dishonesty (too strong), my poor hesitation.
There are deafened geologists, who each morning
wake up, look out at the world, and sign, hooray.


I’ve begun weighing myself for goodwill
in the alleys, for next time. There’ll be objectors,
there’s always objectors who are mostly
good raunchy, but I can’t keep quiet
about their other manners.
There are very few people that everyone knows.
If we got them all together, and put them in black
turtlenecks, the entire room would go arrhythmic,
and we’d edge out of our clothes,
spilling forth, you name it.


Loan me your gas mask that turns panic
into coos. Send me the delivery charge
you’ve amassed from your problem
that I know nothing about. Ask me to turn
the page of my individuality during dinner,
and count the seconds before I become drowsy
enough to pass out. Accept half of my body
as yours and promise we’ll halve the other half,
handing it to one person who is furious
and one person who is frightened. As a general rule,
when I begin speaking, stare often and long
at my forehead, throw me off under any circumstance
when I look uselessly unable to relate.


This is great. This is the quality time
I was talking about. I came on so strong
at the beginning, shoveling myself
on film until I ran out of juice.
That was too much! Now when I write a check
for something rare and offensive
like Golliwoggs, KGB pillowcases, a flag
self-powered with its own supply
of wind, I’ll note in the memo line:
I’m here, I’ll care for too many mistakes.


I am still thinking too much
about what the first moonwalk cost us.
I have a secondhand horn
that’s growing with pleasure from a shallow
and weakly motivated flexor.
If you named it a folk remedy, I promise
there would be houses that would promise
to spare, I suppose, houses
from reciting, forget it, the beginning again.
Okay, but I’m also thinking
if you stood just far enough away
and began shouting out my secrets, I’m sure
your mild accent would convert itself
to angry, as someone I’d never embrace.

Copyright 2008 Jordan Stempleman