14 July 2012

Featured Poet: Evan Nave

Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

I was born
in a pile of mirror
shards under a ladder
on Friday
the 13th honest
and said something
isn’t right
here and is it over
        There were old
testament prophets standing
on the ladder steps
maybe screwing
in a light bulb and telling
a joke about it. My new
born ideas were fluorescent
and tasted like
yeast and sour breast
          What is the name
                                              of this
one of the prophets yelled
and rent his clothes with ashy
fingers. My father and my father’s
father lay their hands on
my shoulders and said Jack
the ripper
the lion heart
                        and a used
car salesman but it’s all
in his head nothing
written in stone or any
Postmodern cherubim
sat on the ledge
of a dumpster and
laughed about the red
mud of identity and all
the nudity involved
with childbirth.
while my shriveled
everything was cold
and my mother sensed
it and swaddled
me in a big
mac wrapper she found
on the ground. In the moment
I understood at least
conceptually convenience
and I thought it smelled
like diarrhea.
Everyone saw my sneer
face and took it
A high priest
looking man in
strapped sandals rushed
over grabbed a mirror
shard stooped
down and sliced
off my foreskin
tossed it over
his shoulder into
the dumpster while
the cherubim flew
back to the north
          Men take
what they are
given and pretend
to like it
til they die it’s like
being a rodeo
clown get it he said.
Circumcised and destitute
there was nothing left for me
to do but wait
out the sting
so I bled and baby
babbled a lamentation
if this is how it feels
to start how bad
will it hurt
to end?
            (Alley cats dry
humped to the existential cricket
chirp silence.)
The prophets over
heard me twisted
their beards whispered
together looked at
me sad and said
wanna hear
a dirty joke?
                       There’s no rest
                                                   you know
not even
on the sabbath.

To Calvary

Sunday school shoelaces
waxed in maple syrup
against the rug burn
if it rubs it
starts the fire in
the chafe. Melt into the cream
carpet puffed up pink in the palm lines.
One bunny ear hops in circles, dead drunk through the meadow
all the way home to strangle bunny
two with its hear listen close. Thou shalt
shout ‘til the red from the cheeks ripples ‘cross
cartoon soothe giggles animated presto lips
shout the tick tock upside the hush
puppies from Payless. Moses parted the sock seam
across the crushed toe cuticle, deaths drowned there in
the salt, in the plagues pumped to the ankles
tied up tight to choke the slip from the sweat hell
and high water rain
                                                go away
back into the cool between ice water
coos from mother
and her brood of tickle fingers
up the side stitches to the tongue
pockets dropping tithe quarters.
Pay the devil. Cross the trickle into no man’s land
scribbled peach with crayon and scratched
crooked with the minivan bump.

Memories of Generational Anxiety


I am playing
baseball in a maroon
t-shirt. The white elastic
collar is overstretched and
itching my neck. I think
this collar droops
because I have too big a head.
There is something wrong
with my head.


I am in
the pediatric wing
of a hospital holding a stuffed
horse. My father has a six-pack
of 7Up cans on his lap. He says
you had surgery on your
ears. I think I can hear
that and how did I wake up
from that crocodile pit?


I am crying
from a cut
on my index finger holding
my grandfather’s pearl
handled razor blade
from the Philippines. I think
World War II has ruined
everything and I am


I am reading
the Methodist hymnal in
a back row pew.
A woman with a rhino
plasty looks me in the eye
and I decide that there is beauty
in the world and her nose is
not it so I should throw up.


A plastic figurine of Pittsburgh
Penguins great Jaromir Jagr sits
on my father’s oak desk
shelf. I had my mother buy it
for him because the J and J
sounds felt good to me and I
thought dad would like it. We
are not a hockey family.


I am watching
the world’s
strongest man on television
in the family room.
My mother hollers something
down from the kitchen. I holler
something back up. She comes
down the staircase and says
I shouldn’t holler at her.
I should walk up to the kitchen
and speak at a normal volume.
She walks back up
the staircase and I think what
does Thomas Jefferson have
to do with any of this?


I am standing
in the staircase.
My parents have sent me
to my room and I am giving them
the finger and mouthing
the words fuck and
you. They can’t see
me. They watch
television and I worry
about the ten


I am in
the backyard my father’s
friends are building a tree
house for me and my sister.
I crack my head
on a gas-powered generator
and think there is pain
in my head where
is dad?


I am hugged
against my aunt’s
breast. My grandfather has forgotten
how to play our favorite card
game and has given up
trying to remember. He starts
shuffling the cards and
mutters to himself there
will be blood my aunt says
don’t worry his mind is else
where. I say where.
She says in the war our
family’s minds are always
at war it seems. I think
is it in my veins my
mind to war worry and
we used to play
cards before all this.

With Weather Like This, Who Needs Prophecy
For Mom
Your permanent smelled
like Kip’s Burger French fries
on account of the umbilical cord being filled
with coleslaw. I heard you pipsqueak
from your love handles, the pinpoint
above your left hip, and merci beaucoup
for ice chips from a basement
bleached cafeteria fridge. Water
on the tongue numbed
the labor in the arches
of your feet. Thanks
for the name.

The doctor flipped a coin
for plug or outlet, electricity in
my crotch crackled like a Christmas
tree and when George Washington landed
face up I sprouted a man and choked
out purple. People in moustaches
cracked about college football and
wrapped me in a Midwestern
onesie made of cornhusks. Organic,
gluten-free garments still diaper rash.
You rubbed gluestick on
my ass cheeks and put me
back together again. All noses
against cheeks and promises
against neck skin. Breath gripping
the base of the skull and between
the shoulders. Still from the ice
chips cold. Support circle of busy
bodies bustling around my blood,
my blood.

Even with new eyes I stacked
the hospital floor tiling in columns
of eight. Rows of eight and outlined
the constructions with spittle
from my soft spot. Order,
order. Night Court played on the hospital
TV fuzzy with tax-paid static
and generic Sprite. You ate oyster
crackers and burped up the answers
to my questions: “Are the stacks straight
enough to keep us safe or are the rows
wish-washed in ammonia and sponge
bath? Should you have called me
out as Samson in spite of all this
hair?” Never mind, Delilah, your gypsy
jewels shone pretty in the wheelchair
chrome, and we rolled out in chariots
of amniotic fluid, baptized
into this war. 

© 2012 Evan Nave