by Glenn Shaheen
University of Pittsburg Press, 2011
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- Dead animals. Sculptures of dead animals. Dead wooden animals with their mouths full of sawdust. Dead wooden animals with their mouths full of sawdust (pried open with the claw end of a hammer). Dead wooden animals with their throats packed tight with their own fur. Fur the consistency of soil.
- Dead animal America. Dead animals in all the wells. Dead animals instead of a mailbox (“I’m not sticking my hand in there” someone says with a sigh then turns sideways in a beam of light- gone forever).
- Do you speak the lingo. Can you feel the language. Cracked open you pull the codes from her head like an oyster’s gel. Noise and then more noise. Do you have any last words and you say, “Yes, it was because of all the interrupting.” It was because of communism in the 1980’s. It was because of red plastic figurines. It was because she said it was childish. Write that on the intake form write that and LURCH toward the nurse.
- “More and more people ask me what / exactly I am.” My puking in shoes in the closet in the dark with my eyes canine slits. “My flexible pallor.” My devil’s advocate’s devil’s advocate (lying bloody in the linens). And someone always saying, “what’s this about anyway, would you call this [lying broken in the cinnamon] description?”
- Someone will say what is the writing like and someone else [it’s me I guess with my fingers still self-sticky from the autopsy] will say “it was written in ditch. It was written in a ditch. It was written facedown while the rainwater filled with ditch. The writer was covered in cradle water. Sodden water. Christmas Christmas water.”
- “Personally, I’d take / the door with the tiger, but that would be an accident. / It’s my luck. There’s a tiger behind every door.”
- They called our family nuclear for a reason. They said the animals could no longer drink from the well. Stage directions called for imprecise cutting. “One gasp in a silent crowd.” “Honey / is down.”
- Walks into your bar says hey man what’s your story. Using the jacket copy [isn’t that yours isn’t that Yours] to mop up his gin giving up [didn’t take long] spilling red wine now trying to weave it through the gin. I’m making a mosaic he says. It’s about love without religion. Two parts gin. I can’t remember the rest.
- “I know a lot / of ways to sleep next to a woman.” It’s all in the manual. I mean you’re the manual. You’re like invisible ink that’s why the MRI that’s why someone used you to write “something awful.”
- It’s all here in the overhead projector this magical whatever that can translate real things into ghosts. Bad things into hints. “The book is not a survival guide.” “Some predatory.” Some back from market with their pig white necks exposed.
- Calling everyone in from the mass grave because families should eat together. Not just once a week either. Did I say mass grave. I meant multimedia. I meant shopping mall from the 1890’s briefly visited here in the form of kitsch. Someone asks you what science fiction is and you say “love.”
- “Do you remember Nirvana.” “Do you remember when I was better.” “Me neither.” Someone passes you an APB in class. Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah. Laboriously unhinging his jaw and begging for your patience.
- “Playing racquetball, my retina comes detached. This is something / internal. I cover my eye, as if this half black could seep outside.”
- I cover my eyes as this half black could seep outside. I cover my eyes. I read the poem two times then a third. For the sake of forensics. For the sake of when did she leave when did the “she” in the poems leave and did she come back and leave again did she “need some air” did she just get up for a glass of water. This [this book] is the sort of action movie blockbuster a director might make if making movies like that is how he kept his fears at bay.
- I mean, it’s explosions and omg there’s a body in the reservoir and top gun I mean it’s all the things. But with sadness underneath.
- That poem about not wanting to answer a phone call from your friend because you know he’s sad. It would be a long conversation. And women dismembered in film. And area codes. And ring tones. A voicemail fist (that you don’t wanna open).
- “You pass the body of an old man on the side of the darkest country road.” You always wanted to be an optimist. But optimists kill. Idealists pass their bodies back and forth. Don’t get any ideas. If I had to touch someone, I wouldn’t.
- “Scaredy cat pills.” “I have a lot of DVD’s.” O jsbbr s ;py pg FBF’D. “I have your daughter.” I have a puncher’s chance. “Let me get back to you, she’s crying.” I Am A Wall in a House and I Have a Duty to Remain Erect.
- Until someone tears me down. This is one definition of freedom. Waiting for someone to tear you down. “A boy finds a fallen nest of robin’s eggs, / and chooses not to smash them into a red mess.” That’s another.
- Less familiar perhaps, more European. Nothing to do with me. In this country time + opportunity = smashed to fucking pieces. You stay up all night every night hitting reload on CNN to see why she left.
- “I’m the bad guy?”
- Have you ever seen a lonely guy in a diner pawing at the steam sitting on a crowded bus have you seen the lonely café on the train on top of someone’s shoulders and someone next to him a diner too but there are no lights in that café there on the train there are almost never any briskly walking down the street with anyone inside.
- “You’re lonely and it’s just
now dark. You wish the girl at
the grocery checkout had fallen
into your arms
and told you her worst
secret. You take it, you
take it. On television,
a monster unloads his
tommy gun into a
cop, and justice
is done. There’s that
energy to this place too.”
- “When I’m put under at the hospital, there’s a minute when I forget / who I am, and my thoughts are a severed party balloon. Then animal, / only animal.” All animals are animals waiting to be tortured.
- “There’s a real connection here, babe. But I should warn you that I’m not / sure I know what a real connection is.”