Just What Was in Front of Us All Along
When the paper is too soft and the ink too heavy, a line might vary in thickness,
coagulating when it is directed upward and thinning when pulled downward;
when the curve of a foot or a shoulder teeters too close to the edge of the paper,
it will turn back just in time, but not before surrendering some of its assuredness.
– Hannah Frank (1984–2017)
The “click” that seizes is a fragment
licking at the edges of the frame.
Outside of that? There are mistakes.
We perceive these mistakes as movement
and since the list of might-be mishaps
persists, is limitless, they sometimes play
the next versions of ourselves—
impossible bodies taking hold,
what was covered and now lurks,
the new police. That sort of thing.
All the while your klutzy cowboy hippo
rides the rain effect, which is to say
the grace of error aggregates
from what was lost or just a moment
back the gloppy underside
a hundred imagined biographies: a view
of views of the world
and its storied afterlives.
after C. Wright Mills (1916–1962)
For those with their hopeful training
who live in worlds they never made
there is need for that noisy sign of power.
It lays them in the gray ways of work.
To refuse this dynamic is to be
scooped inside the throbbing
kleptos of the new, like a tiny bear
pinced inside a claw modeled, perhaps
in absence of recognition, on its own.
Know your pose: to imitate
unwillingly and in curious miniature
the ways of giants. But increased
awareness is not enough, for you are not
a ball. You are not its source. Only
the tang and feel of “bargaining”
by an us, with numerical ballast
and that aforementioned training, will secure
as both tool and victim
the fragrance of some ruinous heirloom.
False False Spring
after Veronica Forrest-Thomson (1947–1975)
A foal eats grass, a car diesel.
The river contours summer meadows,
long in the glare of easy nouns that sift.
Fine, blank sayings hum along
the verdure, the flowers with their names
and the hustles of movement in the grass.
However these twisted voices (enough or less)
open silence, it’s wounded scent that creatures us
into a clear and frightful world.
Clovers us with jagged fumes,
gentle and compensate. Reminds us beyond solace
like a kind that isn’t ours.
The bad news of the clock yet
love these wicked nights. Body-meat, the perk—
your killer mod means it still glistens.
I hit the new raw juice joint,
you place a tourniquet around my name,
we run through our carwash rioting
in dark Disneyland on matters of the day.
A thorough whoosh drowns out some story
you’re telling that remains unfinished and fills
the watershed of whatever as we rinse
with whispers of pre-nostalgia, or
original songs about the moon and stars
suffusing a world in which the sole object
“glorious in its solitude”
is to be seen and heard, and where you make a lot of noise…
I-5 fireworks. Time-lapsed
flowers. Our crystal crystal windshield garden.
The sky then slides across itself
moisturizing that old saw
the transnational commercialization of suffering.
Jeremy Schmidt was selected by John Ashbery for the 2014 Discovery Poetry Prize, and his writing has appeared in publications such as The Believer, Boston Review, LA Review of Books, Lana Turner, Oversound, and Prelude. Currently a Teaching Fellow and a Scholarship Counselor at UCLA, he lives near the Los Angeles River and is completing a project about the long afterlives of very short American poems.