27 March 2011

Featured Poets: Eric Elshtain and Greg Fraser

I’ve Been Called Worse by Better

The Bourgeois Thrill of Receiving a Fax

The army but a livid red
beside the girl the night’s censure
obscures. The freedom around the country
laces a dialogue ’twixt strictures

the population bills. A Nixon plan
approached the cottage a lot
in Haiti when the man in Fort Defiance
thus was fitted into the fires

that destroy the pride and few
occasions on the island. Spies
her lips were smiling to attempt
the standard works, a proclamation

made the same June two tweens disappeared
from Hotel Abyss. Then the war began,
surrounding them in a new divine affect,
the crows flying and upholding

the market and the movement,
a wracked condition akin to declining.
What lies beneath the saddest lists?
Empire versions of ourselves.


Sink Ships

The summer America changed its name
to Hotel Abyss, the girl and you, in you,
followed the arc of night’s censure
to a cottage, it seemed, on a freedom shore.

Your dialogue, laced with Nixon, war,
and population bills, were standard works,
while innocents got fitted into fires
by sartorial troops, and spies surrounded lips.

Those rotten empire versions of yourselves,
those proclamations and saddest lists—
to what red island did they disappear?
What became of livid occasions, few

as they might have been? Now the crows’
flight seems akin to weak declension,
and conditionals flaunt themselves as new
divines. If the girl, then you, then she would,

if you were. That was the plan, at least.
The June plan. Before she shot back East.


untitled lyric

Little river, clouds in the door,
who else went walking down
the day? Not socialites who sneer
at the baggage grunt, not
dustmen or the landlord sore.

Each to each in a brown cafe . . .
Such words make a little dwelling,
for I have heard long sighs,
and had to drown the sage.
Still, with time the giant senses

direct. If I trust my warden, all
afternoon in silver fields, then asters
in lieu of home, and later a host
of stars. I would shout against
a lesser bone, sing the hostess red.

In the background, garnished
platters, London fused to glass.
The sentences keep growing,
the full weight of the unforgotten.
Impossible to measure on demand.


Political Speech                                         

Little River, clouds at the door,
Who else got
Today? No better society, “virtual
Anke on luggage,” not
Garbage collection or the landlord wound.

Each cafe each heat. . .
These things make a small apartment,
For I heard many sighs,
And had to sink the statement.”
But over time a huge sense

Directed. If I rely on my manager, all
Afternoon Money Boxes, then Asseatarym
Place at home, and then host
Stars. I was writing about
Bones less singing, red hostess.

Background, cut
Sheets melted, London on the glass.
Rates continue to grow,
The full weight of forgetfulness.
Be measured on demand.

(ee:  composed using Google translator, first English to German, then German to Hebrew, then Hebrew to English, then given minor revisions)

Nothing’s Ever and Anachronism

I'll have half a mind for the whole thing
if only someone'd make me look like 30 cents
& do my dirty house with bad wire & glue.

“Gotta get off the schneid,” says the Padre,
“Keep yr hands in yr pants
& yr gold in the air, my son,

where the ducat crew can't reach.”
Got my melting pot in the cellar
& enough paper clips

to model my car after you, sugar—
name it something Greek
paint it the color of tea

drive it 'til the wheels burn,
maybe California
where the cabbage is orange.

I got yr stereotype all set:
brunette & all that that implies.
My logging-camp scrip

will get us in the commissary, baby,
if we can stomach the flood
& weather the tolls. Is there a farm

in your purse, mama? They got grants for those.
I found brown seeds in my wallet—let's see what grows.


To an Untranslatable Poem by Eric Elshtain

I have lowered a shoulder and bulled my way in.
I have stripped you down, bulked you up. Tinkered,
toyed, toiled. I have wakened early with best intents,

ignored the brandished fist of the noonday sun,
watched dusk zip the city up in sequins.
And I am left to translate, Poem, my failure.

I have failed just like the sea, trying madly to climb ashore.
Like gray moths batting the porch lamp, seeking rapture.
I am acutely aware of ashes, the cast-off dreams of fire.

Like an only child of four or five,
I have curled inside a blanket
and ridden in the back alone . . .

Is it because the prairies seen from airplanes
are sullen de Stiles? Because high wheat serves biscuits
without a hairnet, & a pigeon dropped its business,

just this morning, on my just-bought navy blazer?
If only the elders hadn’t slaved for epochs inside their truths, Poem,
if only my brother’s hands weren’t clawed from birth.

Poem, with your thoughts like a jagged coastline,
your fly’s-eye vision, your radiant, untouchable privacy,
like sunlight trapped in trees, you have left me to curse

the Rec. Room, Chicago, early October, to wear my hair
like a screwball. You have covered my mind with semi-hard plastic
like the cowling of a boat motor, or a junior-high football helmet.

Have I sneered too long at revelation?
Have I fallen deaf to whispers from the grave?
I have fingered your blood like paint, and made a living will,

choosing to pay the earthworm not of the mortician.
And what little, Poem, I have to show: barges of fog afloat
on a river at dawn; monkeypod wood so perfect for salad bowls . . .

The spider instead achieves her work, connecting this to that
to capture passersby with the practically unseen.
And to think: just twelve days ago, you appeared

as a welcome surprise, like a box of doughnuts opened
in a small-town bank—free with coffee to holders of accounts.
Coffee. Doughnuts. Jesus, it’s half past noon,

and I’ve had no breakfast. Perhaps if I’d had some breakfast.
You know breakfast, right Poem?
Goddamned most important meal of the day.