NO MATCH FOR BEING INTIMATE: CHAPBOOKS, E-BOOKS, AND ONLINE COLLECTIONS

ADAM FIELED

EARLY POEMS 1998-2005 (ONLINE COLLECTION)

Early Poems: 1998-2005

1

Credits
Hinge— “Prince,” “Disappear” Many Mountains Moving (online)— “4325 Baltimore Ave.” Siren’s Silence— “Clean” * Siren’s Silence and Hinge are both out of print

2

Clean
I gave myself an enema the other day, took some antibiotics. Thought to myself, “This is really the poet’s place in the world— not sitting in some pasture, not smoking in some bar, not fucking someone lovely, not courting Gods or Jesus. No. The poet’s place is kneeling down, naked, with something or other stuck up his ass, in a desperate attempt to get clean.” April, 1998

3

Prince
Wesley wore silk pajamas— he looked very regal, planted before the floor TV. I would sit next to him, waiting for the ugly nurses to feed us our pills, and take our pulses. He told me about his car, his mother, his buddies— the catalogue of adolescent normalcy— and you wouldn’t think he was schizophrenic, listening to him speak. In fact, I thought he was a prince, Albeit one who was, like most princes, at the mercy of his servants. May, 1998

4

Disappear
The bleached blonde shook the two white bowls together, one atop the other, making a Caesar salad. Another bleached blonde, my girlfriend, watched me watching this meticulous process. Dug her engine-red nails into the sweet secrecy of my inner thigh, Saying, wordlessly, “If you think that’s a good trick, You should see me disappear sometime.” May, 1998

5

4325 Baltimore Ave.
Jason cooking flounder on a filthy range, picked up at 40th & Walnut where Penn students mingled w/ artists, Chomsky-ites, bums, mothers, where French bread for two bucks we’d carry around for walks home down rustic mansion’d streets, fish-waft filling lovably threadbare kitchen laden w/ mustard & crumbs— gone— Mary’s Acme pesto pasta, Olive-oil Goddess she’d make a pot on pot in a pot & we’d have a bowl from the pot watching hot French-flicks in the vivid living room, gone— paintings, Mary’s evocations Dionysus & Apollo, Jason post-Dali post-structuralist Dada & Derrida derived violences, submitted to smitten PAFA judges winking secretly at Jason’s tight ass, Mary’s too, they screwed, we screwed, we all were screwing each other secretly, tenderly, flecked w/ little chips from falling ceiling, gone— parties on green-awning’d porch, weed midnights; butt-smoke, frost-breath, gun-stocked West Philly cops stop to shock us w/ looks, putting no cell-bar cramps on druggy St. Steven, gone— moments later I’d drag Mary into her woodfloored torrid bedroom & open-door fuck her, hoping Josh & Kevin might spy us, one time on whiskey Mary’s diaphragm got stuck inside her, I felt it, fucking her, we laughed, Mary’s hair then was long down to her ass, raucous, gone— Grace, Jason’s grace, a minx of jinxing, she from rich Connecticut knows Salinger reads my poems at parties makes snot comments, silver-belted, out on the back porch in October wind we stood, Grace, raven tresses Heaven-breasts innocent sex, girlfriend who had Jason by the face, ass, I made scathing Spears comment everyone hissed, instead we put on Stones Kinks Elliott Smith, Josh who played music, gone, now w/ Sara, 6

jailbait date stealing cars & kisses, back-seat caresses blonde tresses sun-dresses, troublestarting, Kevin’s dread on my head, gone— Kevin dumb chimp we called him big beast of a man writing bad songs doing Ritalin lines raging through nights fucking Diana, gone, moans that broke us up, Oh Kevin Oh Kevin, waitress of the hunt, Diana, blank stare, no cares or qualms taking alms from everyone, doing laundry, Diana & me in lust discreetly, doors open, Bohemian dream-time— apogee— everyone hot— everyone fucking, painting making music, boozing, drugging, sucking, humping, leaning on nothing but the night’s promise, always more night, another line, another ride, time to find out food, hues of mood, clues of color, love shape, O Lord we were the crux of ourselves, our nexus the nexus, our moment the moment, all now reduced to ash, nothing but a shut window, a fiery memory of an open one… June, 2004

7

After Picasso
There was an eye that stared. There was that that didn’t know what it was. There was that that didn’t know who it was. There was an eye that glared. Spring 2005

8

Front
To have a front is to be faking it— though its this we use, when we want to prove, there is no love— love isn’t making it. Though pain is dross (we must be shaking it), though the fight isn’t fun, (nor does it soothe) to have a front is to be faking it. The world is a bank; to be breaking it, we sit tight on all fronts, to make our moves; there is no love— love isn’t making it. Money is the king, we’ll be raking it; it is this we worship, and this we choose— to have a front is to be faking it. Knowing no doves, we’d rather be snaking it, and our soul’s in the fire; hot, it stews; there is no love— love isn’t making it. If love were a drug, we’d be taking it; we want the pill that we’re loathe to use— to have a front is to be faking it. There is no love— love isn’t making it. Autumn 2004

9

Combing Out
“we” were in english class, next to being next to each other. a matter of adding a porch or rolling in mud. she said to me: “you’re caring” sounded to me like: “you’re a fairy” that hair became a kind of relic, the way a once-used metaphor might (in its’ “it”) leaving high school was a “volta” i’m still combing out. combing out with meredith’s mud-brown hair. combing out with meredith’s mud-blown hair. combing out. leaving “leaving high school”, another “volta” now, becoming a once-used metaphor (out & “out”) that way is a hair-relic, “me” a heretic; her tic sounds to me like: “you’re a weirdo” she said to me: “you’re a weirdo” a matter of adding peach or rolling in hay with each other. “we’re” in a separate class, “late for the next one”. Mid 2005

10

To a Diner Waitress

You were not born to mind the counter at Pete’s Famous Pizza. You were born to be an Italian peasant in a thick black skirt. I’d walk w/ you along dusty streets of some green provincial town. We’d lay making love in a field, your skirt hitched up. You’d have a child by me as I was off fighting World War I. Then I’d be dead and you’d take other lovers who were also me. You were not born to mind the counter at Pete’s Famous Pizza. You will always be to me as you were in those rolling verdant fields. You will always be to me Demeter, scattering grain from your hips’heft. With every corned beef club, I come closer to the essence of your sorcery. With every side of fries, I come closer to encompassing your cleavage. You were not born to mind the counter at Pete’s Famous Pizza. 2005

11

fantasy interaction with bjork
She crouches in green wilderness, a sylvan sprite, tongue lapping rain, tattoo exposed to humid mist & heat. I take hold of her firmly, hands feeling flanks, teeth gnawing neck, fingers finding spine, wedged between legs; she squirms, writhes, surrenders to the ancient pulse of dripping leaves, swaying ferns, moist earth. I ease her onto her back and come inside her Autumn 1999

12

To Karen O.
Indie waste land: fish-net detritus, spat beer festooning bare red concrete slabs. crooked floor, you straddling an unseen phallus, rapt, pussy-pink, “sweat-watered”, not asleep w/ motor humming; boys conceiving hummer-dreams in loose-jeaned, tee-shirted, ballgrabbed blisses. song: chanted. “Icon”: two parts vinegar. “art”: one part sass. “kohl”: what you see. “media”: tease & freeze ‘em. “substance”: lies behind myth, vomit. “karen”: possibly, someone home.

13

New Orleans Elegy
We’re all floated bodies: splay-limbed, blue-faced, lining gutters the lengths of America. We’ve all looted, hungerloosed, fever-freed, prowling aisles set out in plastics. We’re a country w/ out levee. Acid rain blows in from Gods & sand-rats, blighting us. We slumber at flood-gates, star-struck. Ciphers amble about, skin-flashed, scurvy. We’re all would-be snipers, trigger-trained, tensed, lining bars, hearts of America. We’re all drowning, shudder-huddled, moneypitted, prowling streets knee-deep in feces. We’re a country w/ out levee.

September 2004

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White Light/ White Heat
Lou spews whirlpools of junk-puke over grimy expanses of East Village loft, grasping his Gretsch w/ fingers like needles, feeding back carcass-stacks of stank-ball squall, humping his collegiate-clean dystopic-dream lysergicscream haunches against concrete dank-secreting wall; John (throttled at the edge of static-panic, lapsed scholarship schoolboy, stiff earnest-drip shoulder-chipped art-mensch) pounds resounding third-rounded absurdisms from his keyboard, shudder-rippling behind shades like Horatio watching Hamlet create more things in Heaven & Earth (magic-tragic turkey-wracked Jew-Lou waving his textual bi-sexual word-wand over shit-windowed walls), Sterling (Lou’s chord-swallow lick-mellow pick-darling) lets winsome Beatle-bangs fall in his eyes, Virgo-nerd flying tight, word-silent but evoking jagged miniature Pollock-plots of red edge-lead, direct math abstraction bridge-reaction ledge-approaching dread-encroaching speed-promoted blood, glowing protein-splats, shattered from canvas by Mo’s garbage-truck stark-asfuck thunder-thuds, female-engendered texture-bends breaking wave-like over dark-din anti-silence; city-collision in shock-sharp car-part fuel-fart mule-heart oil, cru dely refined; blinding black & white stag-movie snap-shots, hot wig-wearing dick-sharing eye-glaring girl-guys getting & giving head, erectile tissue explored in miniscule detail, deep-throat gambits, shaft-licking side-swipes, nut-sacks tea-bagged on shag carpets, intense semen explosions leaving greasy sludge-stains, also smearing lips & faces, mixing w/ pill-highs, gin-depths, sleep-deprived contests of who blows best, knows best; bathroom minibattalions tying tourniquets, biting off ends, fixing works (spoon-cook patient moments contemplating junk-coming Elysian ecstasies), further red-dropper squish seconds before final plunge-thrust, fulfilling Oedipal lust, Mom-cunt in needle-point vein-stitchery; twitching of nerves, bitching swig-sounds from the living room; Lou bent over, rectum loosened, accepting phallus imperious intrusion as he pukes groaning bloody mucus into the deep-shitted bowl, his hands hip; its God, or maybe isn’t, directing anal in/out peristaltic ocean-flow (drainage drone audible behind grime15

walls), entrails burning w/ New York concrete essences, upper-cranial snot-drains as John drops ass-dissonance (thinking avant-garde revenge, correctness of murk, inner/ outer alignment) into the entropy of snake-body being; Sterling lets open strings ring, bends the fifth arrythmically, tasting the taste of no-taste, the vacuum sub-stench of death’s final abyss, as a bathroom-boy collapses, needlearmed, needing nothing, complete, feeling free in the swim to death’s other un-mother still-thunder gut-chunder shore, final spittle-remnants flecking his chin, leaving puddles on tile, shit piss & blood, mingling w/ living-room semen, picture congeals & Andy says okay cut Spring 2004

PIGS AND PLANES (ONLINE COLLECTION)

Pigs and Planes: Uncollected Poems Adam Fieled
These poems were originally featured in Seven Corners, As/Is, Ectoplasmic Necropolis, Nth Position, Great Works (UK), and Fieled’s Miscellaneous

Adam Fieled/ originally featured in Seven Corners (2006) Pigs and Planes
I don’t believe in poetry. It’s a slant that wavers around different patches of sky, or mud chucked on slats of a sty. Or it could be the pig, or the plane, farmer or pilot, pork-chop industrialist, airtraffic controller. The one thing it isn’t is itself. To say poetry is poetry is a rank offence, postmisdemeanor, sub-felony, the sort of sin credulous people pray against. Pigs you can believe in, & sties. Planes you can believe in, & skies. I don’t believe in poetry.

1

Adam Fieled/ originally featured in As/Is (2011) Poet Pipe-Dream
The New Yorker needs a haiku, on hold ‘til I’m done w/ Cameron… Alright, Cam, you’ve had yr way. I’ll write you that screenplay. You’d think they’d be patient— how many bards bed Cam Diaz, tell-tale in seventeen syllables? I’m good w/ starlets— secret is, treat ‘em mean. Cam, especially, dotes on humiliations; noticed my last Malibu jaunt. I read her Donne— Come, Madam, Come, all rest my powers defy; until I labor, I in labor lie… she bought me a Porsche. Not bad for an elegy— or a mistress.

2

Adam Fieled/ originally featured on Fieled’s Miscellaneous (2011) The Ballad of Robert Johnson
Mojo unhinged, he tumbles in black— voice in a skewer, blood-flow gone slack. He slept w/ a girl behind somebody’s back. Her body a car, she drove through the door— bed like a highway, sheets on the floor. He came into something he never went for. The man on the porch was blacker than jet— mottled in whiskey, bitter and wet. He offered the flask with a little regret. Chills in Rob’s chest knew something was wrong— juice was too sharp, its’ tang was too strong— mud in his guts like an unfinished song. Collapsed on the road, hellhounds close in— nothing but maggots crawl under his skin. All for a lover he never could win. Legends arose when he lay in the ground— at midnight, the crossroads, shadows abound, he waits with the Devil but can’t make a sound. Yet Robert’s still singing, and never can go— he’s hotter than asphalt, colder than snow. His knowledge of evil bewitches and glows. The crossroads are here, the Devil is rife— w/ each one we love, we give up our life. Remember poor Robert when you take a wife.

3

Adam Fieled/ originally featured in Great Works (UK)(2005) To Gil Ott
What naturally becomes a soul’s ascension? Children’s gestures transmuted willfully into armor against waves pushing downwards? Excavation of roots doesn’t equal destruction of such— death, a going deeper, higher, paradox.

4

Adam Fieled/ originally featured in Nth Position (2005)

To John Tranter, after reading “Late Night Radio”
Why write, embittered by black days? You could scout the sun rise, sip coffee. No one’s picking at your liver, no heroic feats need doing. Noon could be pure gravy; nothing need not be filled w/ more nothing. All that’s in the files stays in the files, all that’s gone brackish is in the ocean now. What’s not cream isn’t vinegar. It could be iced coffee, not Starbucks.

5

Adam Fieled/ originally featured in Seven Corners (2006) On Jazz
Physical beauty, Formal Rigor of God— spiritual beauty, Economy of God— Natural Will, Transcendent Will, Facile Will in all its’ dismal “there-ness”— Piano broken chords breaking down space like watching bits of paper collect, contained in a 12-bar blues; root notes you tend to lean on, or maybe a honking minor third, a harmonic multi-colored sharp… Follow your compulsion into flurries, clusters of connecting phrases, then a pause to sanctify as the progression resolves after lingering on the fifth for the appointed time— pentatonics mainly w/ some suspensions, sheets of sound, trademark leaps, like watching a rainbow erupt out of the placid bowels of street-lakes, sparrows in the gutters, Eliot-esque alienation syncopated impossibly high & mighty… Repeat the repetition now into major scale— Ionian gold, major-third suspensions again, almost midnight for tremulous trees, also hipsters, flights of birds, rabbis in the wilderness as blues ends; here’s a quicker quirkier jarring bit to cut your teeth on… Base bottom notes natural like ferns, ride the ride cymbal like musical fellatio, roll w/ rolls & kick-drum ejaculations, what Hart Crane heard in bridges, only blues (so bridge seldom comes), stasis achieved nicely replicates movements, bowel, kidney, heart-beat, daring snare of lip-ness, thickness, quickness, get it all out for all of us into the brick-laden city, 6

mutter of exhausted midnight buses as vibrato notes shiver, miniature solos on the toms creates energy of emptiness among the weird abundance, concluding w/ roll on the snare, now bass also investigates metaphysical space, not so much implacable as inexhaustible eruptions; spring of autumn, autumn of spring… Seasons of balance, compromise, away from extremes; Middle Path exteriorized, oh piano on a minor seventh which bespeaks longing for a more ethereal world, elegiac as the last apple of October, eaten by a Halloween camp-fire, beyond blues of Earth into cadence, dying fall of pure moon, ravaged, torn from the throat of persistence, mute existence destroyed completely and on fire, a universe of fingers & mouths, looking down the tide of Death into eternity, square-shouldered & erect, freezing into whims of Ultimate “there-ness”, beyond ordinary notions of quotidian abyss in one long sitting pow-wow peace-pipe corn-cob wholesome dinner of Voidness, but insinuated only to drive away singularity…. Jazz is plural, they give you a space, show you its’ contours, allow you to move around & drown if you want over hilltops of remorse, created by Love or dolorous longing & especially Central Parks of the soul & intellectual Bordello life cut & pasting its’ bleak outline over rooftops & bluebirds—

7

Adam Fieled/ originally featured in Ectoplasmic Necropolis (2008) Guppy Or
I'm a guppy, she said, & you're an arachnid, which is why you won't let me go long enough to wrap myself around you like a good mermaid. Which is it, I said, guppy or mermaid? Then I was under water waving in a current that took me into schools of both guppies & mermaids, but I still had a stinger, & I used it to find her, & she trashed it, & all eight arms of me were disencumbered, & she said I'll be whatever you want, I'm like Proteus, I keep changing, I said fine, but please let's get on dry land again, I am an arachnid, after all, & everything was wet & dry at the same time, like Heaven, or National Geographic, or us, & kept changing, & 8

we were better than television, & more entertaining

9

Adam Fieled/ originally featured in As/Is (2006) To Cali
I keep mistaking everyone for you. I want to get myself out of the way. Anything I’ve kept comes from this. “Anything” seems so random. Nothing might even be better. Nothing, as it lives in an infinite event. The whole dialectic comes from you being gone. “No synthesis” is like impotence. I can’t paint you as I can’t paint. I’ve never been “Mr. Line” anyway. Pine needles would seem to be objective correlatives. How much fun is half a Mondrian? It was like Action Painting with chalk. Now it’s “all-over.”

10

Adam Fieled/ originally featured on Fieled’s Miscellaneous (2011) Run Away with Me
I was thinking as I listened to her about Byron’s relentless nihilism that only found out in intoxication any kind of remedy for the things she was telling me about abortions and rapes and how no I won’t go home with you and how Byron alone among the Romantics dealt overtly with sex not just love like Shelley or fantasy like Keats or like Wordsworth the dull sheep and all the blokes in the bar were staring at her green eyes red hair bust you know the kind that blokes will stare at and I thought Byron really caught something a seed a kernel of what Nietzsche ran away with I said please run away with me and she laughed looked down into her beer and was finished

11

Returns By Adam Fieled

Wittgenstein’s Song
Merely brilliant is no match for being intimate. When you catch a wave that breaks, you can only half-determine its’ course. Lonely is the determined man, whether it’s he who decides his fate or fetters the world lays on him. This I learned from a young man’s kiss. Thus, I’ve learned, said nothing. To be silent is something for the wise to practice. Words go too far. How much have we heard worth holding onto? How much said that can placate what we dread?

After Andrew Marvell
Twelve long years, with the length of all that time squeezed into a universe that hovers between us, as I knock back a third Jack and Coke and you stir your Jameson, as our eyes meet and I re-read in my head what I wrote in a journal twelve years ago: “two-faced, mannish, and frigid.” That’s our universe: words scrawled in the heat of undecided passion, which resolved in the submissive caresses of another. Yet they hover there, still undecided because I bet you kept a journal too, and a good one, and if you didn’t well then our universe isn’t much, I don’t give a shit about the coyness that can’t be squeezed without stress, and I’ll find another mistress.

hikmet most remarkable you loved a world that nailed you like a too-vivid portrait (red, blue, green) to soot-blackened walls; that this love kept showing up in poems like gold-rinded oranges; that you kept it, always, close at hand. stuck in thorn-bushes the length of america, i look for this love (fruit, flesh) inside myself, find steel-hewn indifference, implacable, endless, & america its faithful mirror (informer, accomplice). thus, all relation is blocked, unless i peel you away & swallow your seeds…

Gun and Knife (after J. Tranter)
"Please, I'm begging you— don't do it at 3 a.m., when I'm sleeping, but rather at high noon, in a public square, so that everyone can see a thousand rosy rivulets run like waterfalls away from my innards. A sawed-off shotgun, please, fed to me like cornbread, what I know is really best, no need for a spoon, just shove it in. Then, when my brain dots & streaks several unready awnings, the knife, have it be long, terrible as angels dancing & as merciless, plunge it, deeper, deeper, so that I feel my aorta being severed, really feel it, how shockingly irrevocable, just like that, so that literal nothingness becomes my only reality, which it already is, which is why I'm begging you, please, please."

Zero to One: A Probability Field .0 Potted ferns Brooklyn sunset you in it open window you sit before combing your hair thinking of me that I’m here Philadelphia dull streets dull city I’m “sand grained” thinking what if my “sunned” orbit moved to Brooklyn tenderness me the shell protecting you as we circle Manhattan with guitars and songs consecrate to love and beauty singing at the speed of light loving at the speed of sound shaded by energy packets concrete plastic gin and tonic kind bud and our own hardy souls cell-phone rings you answer your voice has a catch in it from crying you’re easily moved perhaps I’ll move you again and I do resonant tones that happen when you’re “seeing” and it’s blue a movement (energy transmission in space in a vacuum) is initiated Brooklyn and Philly move closer on our maps interior terrain electron waves reinforce a centered connection you and I moving easily around a core we share called emotion .2 I lie awake feel you with me “arduousness of appearance” crossing physical boundaries microscopic & making a difference something has happened between us no impalpable “thing-in-itself” beside your voice playing on this CD you sent me you cry out and the cry comes from inside me somehow as if we had become one being already somehow space is no vacuum the night is close and holy what’s dark is light and vice versa but I can’t sleep and my nerves hum .3 Bonding between artists is like bonding between atoms energy shells open when the Muse lays down the law of gravity and I am and you are swayed in its’ lull down together so I open yr e-mail “nothing like the sun”, it contains poetry and an invitation my arms are “rag and boned” they should be full quanta specific energy surges predictably unsettle when I want peace the only peace I have is in my imagination of candles lit on dressers and we’re there the neutral bed growing partial .1

.4 Unlike electrons observed only in groups we know singularity thus, becoming open receptive as the Book of Changes advises is tough I can’t see through yr eyes though I’ve tried many times & been wrong yet this is why I come back to you some primordial mystery you encapsulate in photons you emit also in a simple smile that’s still complex particularity Polynesian eyes & mouth tough delicacy cheekbones yr songs are love-songs “in just-Spring” w/ death in them you’re a complete package I haven’t totally opened I’m getting there

.5 We make plans (poor people have plans too!) noble poverty the Chinatown bus only $20, Philly to NY I at least have that much you’ll meet me in the Village any bar you choose we’ll drink I’ve vowed to make each moment precious “let us live only for loving” even if we face energy transmission in a vacuum even if we lose some sense of continuity when the rush is on and in for the prize subway kisses New York creates whoever’s there out of its’ own ineffable material the thing is to notice the creation and own it .6 “Hard & moist & moaning” beyond distances struggling to place divergent strains undertones cadences a dying fall on Avenue A laughter in Tompkins Square is this what we hoped for maybe at least I’m with you to whatever degree New York allows harsh mistress depositing trash internal and external at each doorstep but we must move through keep our “assets” uncluttered hanging together like a threaded afghan blue shades red eyes nights fast & slow and here in your arms I feel upwardly mobile “trade in kisses” is valid at last .7 Who could’ve guessed that this would be our expressive arc? frankly I have no objection any kind of touch heals a seared strip such charity in your tongue you make me believe body & soul do interconnect on some meta level far beyond the reach of the abraded Brooklyn streets which cough up their own phlegm in steel squeaks & clanks outside inside only this you have made my center a nucleus you dance around what talent I can never repay you for this interlude except to whisper sweet things that aren’t nothing “endowed with Love’s refinement”

.8

Watching you sleep I feel close…. to what I don’t know earth, stars sun, moon God, rose (God may well indeed be a rose of some sort) not that their aren’t distances yet to be crossed or that we’ll cross them all by morning but I’ve learned that in this world any progress is a miracle any step forward into “not-death” must be treasured inscribed in whatever book happens to be at hand so I sit at the window & scribble these words not ready for the day or anything but more kisses the kiss of sleep love, life, light immortality wells of secret joy Brooklyn-as-Elysium .9 You’ve got to work banal quotidian disaster I wake up alone buy coffee at a deli hop the train back into New York something inside me has grown older and wiser merely through being your lover I feel an interior beard grown over my soul’s face nothing boyish has lasted I can’t say you’ve made a man of me but what we made was as full as any ripe orchard I think of orchards passing through Washington Square old Henry James novels Frank O’Hara’s mind caught in the branches of intellection and devilry I’m deliriously complete as he 1 This is what it means to be intimate the solidity of the intangible settles

on my kitchen table wherever else I sit & ruminate touch things that remind me of your body what’s done is done and what’s done is good memories our only permanent possession of course I’ll see you again but this untarnished something can only have happened once in this way at such an angle that my guts are encompassed in a circular swirl of colors and smells and your skin sentiment acceptable for once unforced love is love is love darling sweet baby honey child yes “at the setting of our own brief light we never waken”

Concentrate! for mary harju laughter rises from (concentrate!) throats in depths, de profundis; cushions w/ sheets w/ floral patterns & wind rushes in; streets surreal w/ coffee-shops (open at eleven), so we go, get coffee, a brownie, sit on curb / baltimore ave. near clark park— we hit it— slides, grim metal fence, against park-lavatory walls mary’s lips taste like sweet brandy— here we are; (concentrate!)

Just What I Needed
Girl behind counter rings up a pizza, she is silver-plated under me later, ribbons muss her hair into strands, she talks through it, there is no sleep in her, there is only someone to feed.

Rainy Day, Dream Away
It’s raining an incorrigible sky pouts whitely I never really felt so much before about the sky, it’s “apartness”…. to wake up on such a day is to sleep I sit, look down on glazed leaves minute pirouettes a revelation, revolution sodden air thick concrete zones this is a city after all tire-hiss proves it coming from down below after all I’m up high, practically clouded heavy eye-lids pale shrouds of “what is” “what is” seems irrelevant data white curtains drawn across the street two bodies must be improvising wetly to sit on such a day is to stand in a squared circle of derisive un-laughter who knew the clouds were such serious business that rain could be so meta-rational

Rain Fall
It is constrained by water-wheels It is beneath a tide of shorelines It is in this way I reach out to you I give you a seal made of pillows I give you a pledge made of sheets I want to be buried beneath you as you move mountains off of all in us exhausted by rain fall all in us exhausted all in us

What Is and What Should Never Be
I was up in the stacks, picking at a scab done in blank verse, I was gazing blankly at lone/level sands, I saw you floating in ginger down aisle after aisle of carrion, carrying red beacon light from a head halo, I saw a book suddenly snapped, I saw you in blurs of blue metaphor, I was up against you in an aisle, I took you into a kind of castle that was really a closet, in castle/closet we were magically welded to rivers we were dirt to Browning in greens catch the wind sail and spin way up I woke to the sound of rain’s gong I saw that the desert had melted

Something
Yet we’re stuck on each other, “somehow.” Or, your picture on my wall (the clothes, the deep looks, how adorable) signifies an ambiguity inherent in love’s prosody. Anyway, this is meant only to be a torn anemone sent up along ocean currents to your door, a way of saying you’re in me “somewhere.” If that’s regressive, so be it, but let no silly man accuse me of “quietude”— this longing is loud indeed.

Pass
It was so silly, she was at the bar, I approached her, she had played that night, Mike had his sister there, she hung on me like mistletoe, but I approached her nonetheless, leaving Mike's sister (this poem is not meant to be either racy or epiphanic, really, it's a token of a night on which I paid $7 for Marlboro Reds in the East Village), I approached her and said "Listen, I just wanted to tell you that we've known each other for six years and I really always wanted you," but I said it like a jest or a question and she left, and later Mike's sister shut us in a tiny bedroom and the night was hot, black as tar, New York in my nostrils, gunky musk, that was a night I couldn't sleep at all, not one second, I was lost in a bar exam I did not pass—

Credits Clown War— “Just What I Needed” Ectoplasmic Necropolis— “Gun and Knife” Mirage— “Rainy Day, Dream Away,” “Wittgenstein’s Song” moria— “Concentrate,” “hikmet,” “After Andrew Marvell,” “What Is and What Should
Never Be”

Pennsound— all poems!! Sous Rature— “Zero to One”

Mother Earth
By Adam Fieled

#1 Yes, this is how it must be, high up; there is no earth in this pitted wood. Stoli, Captain Morgan’s, especially; all taste clear, brackish, bring sweets. Beneath flesh, digested meats; she’s expecting, wants me to die. If I’m dead, I drink to this death. If I live, I curse her stomach, too. There is little else to do. New York: a crust of bread that crumbles, spits. When I take her, I take an island: all streets split to flush us into it. There’s a steep price for this shit. Our low-down: reverse mountains flake.

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#2 Listen, now that I’ve got you alone I need to break a few things to you. You think this guy is going to make a responsible father? Look how shiny these shoes are, and you know why? I took the time to have them shined. This guy has hands that shake, eyes that dart, lips that curl, and it’s all because he can’t take care of himself. You think having two kids at once is going to be glamorous? Do you really have that much of a martyr complex? Please, here’s another Diet Coke, I know this isn’t fun for you, especially because you have to cab it back to the subway. I’ll pay.

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#3 Look: the boy-child sleeps. Of course, he left a cigarette in the ash-tray; sudden death’s here. I take his sleeping hands, place them on my belly, just so he knows, at least somewhere in the dense green fog of his existence, what’s about to happen. My breasts are watermelons, it’s sick. His hands are limp. I’m damp: I still want this man (if he can be called a man, if that bald pate signifies). To think, that all he’s swallowed in this are lies. Of course, tiny streaks of spit mar his pillow. I bought them of course, and their blueness works. He’ll leave me lit too, and wanting a real father. Yet, do I take the blame for this hideousness? Yes. Two babes are sleeping while I get undressed.

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#4 Truth is, he’s only half-asleep. He left the cigarette in the ashtray, hoping the place would burn down: he’s a terrorist. She’s the fattest woman he’s ever kissed. But, as she lies her hefty bones beside him, there is tenderness that wells up softly. If he opens his eyes, he falls deeply, again. Outside, slush builds up, brown, grey. The blue Hudson signals from beyond. Nighttime is not a time to go someplace. It’s a common human race scenario; with a pregnant wife, you do not go. Now, she snores, he flips the spit-stained pillows, laid stiff like a cadaver, ashamed.

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#5 Do their dreams coalesce? His dreams are still, blue: girls in their youths, pliant limbs, bright eyes, smooth. In dreams like this he doesn’t have to move, they do it. Long languorous lays on beaches, he digs deep for it. There is no risk as the spray hits him, here to eternity. But crosses dangle mysteriously from blank blue skies— each one slightly different to the others, asks repentance. So he pumps as her face changes (this one, that one), confesses to it as he finishes, reaches for a drink, it ends. It’s 4 a.m.: if there is a wolf at this hour, it’s him. In the dim light, her frame repulses him swiftly. His mind explodes with exploded possibilities, all the how things used to be that never were. That spit on the pillow should’ve been for her.

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#6 Poor guy that he is, he sits on the toilet, not needing to shit. He thinks if he pushes his bowels hard enough (especially with all the Heineken in him) something’ll come. Truth is, he just likes the idea of flushing parts of himself. The shit comes from within, so that’s less of him exists. Yanking up his boxers, he looks in the wall-length mirror. A wraith, more or less emaciated, looks back. No one to watch over him but many, many to subjugate, withhold, deny, supplant, stymie, titillate, vex, disturb, outfox. His eyes are his best feature: stark raving mad sapphire. They glow in the dark, an old girlfriend used to say, they dazzle. He sits on the toilet with the seat up, enjoying being pointless (not just pointless but profoundly pointless, that’s the thing, a beacon of pointlessness, a pointed husk.)

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#7 He figures he might as well smoke outside. My lady, he speaks, doth need no smoke. But it’s cold and he thinks, who cares? Each drag mixes with the final beer buzz in a sweet, maudlin, I’m doing this haze. Yes, the father smokes, drinks, reveals the good Irish taste not to hide these things. Succulent, how hazy his mind is in miasma. The calendar on the kitchen wall has some tart on it, stretching her parts like rubber bands. Maybe she’s the one from his dream? She may as well have been. He’s a father, he’s past this stuff. Still, the old hangman’s itch hits him at such an angle that it’s back to the bathroom.

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#8 His erection juts, but fades as he vigorously pumps. Feeling knavish, he runs to the kitchen, takes the calendar off the wall and, in his drunken sense, it seems perfect to rub the picture on his crotch. As he does, he stands, and the baby’s tears and his intense drunkenness and his lover’s fat ass and the tart’s large breasts move him so much that when he finally finishes it is with such emotion that he barely notices a few words coming from the bedroom. He finishes, makes a wad of toilet paper to sponge off himself, the sink (he used soap this time), the formica counter, bits of puddle on the floor, all doused with such reckless extravagance that he gets proud all over again (she’s saying something about coming here, now).

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#9 Erection just beginning to subside, he glides like an ice skater into the bedroom, sheepish. He had seen from the bathroom’s light all the angles and creases of her careworn face. What bothered her was facing her breath. At this hour, the wrinkles make it like death. Please, God, one or the other, not both. His stealth has won him nothing, as he kneels. He rests his elbows on the navy blue sheets. There it is: the reek, combined with the ways she tries to combat it: Crest, Listerine, floss. He is still seeing the calendar girl’s sleekness. There is richness in having both, until he sees that there is really only one he has, and wants.

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#10 He’s getting hard again, and wants to take her, just for the hell of it. But she moans about his errant ways, and she even knows what he’s done with the calendar that remains doused near the bathroom sink, laid sideways. He is someone who crawls, but he’s being babied here. She looks at him and sees so much to love, from distances. But this right up close angle makes him ten pounds richer with white and black and red and blue scum. She’s a bitch, she knows that but this man carries on (she can’t believe he’s sitting here kneeling as if in a pew, will he just please get in bed?) as if the world was pure shoots and ladders. She splits her mind into before him and after, and now realizes it’s just her breath, so makes a slight shift back. Still, he won’t climb in, though he knows she wants it.

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#11 He intertwines his fingers behind his head, not having listened. Since he doesn’t drive, there has to be a set up for water breakage. He thinks of waves breaking on beaches under tropical moons. He wants to sip pina coladas, or just to dive in the Hudson. That time when he was five, his Dad took him on a boat into Lake Michigan, there was big blueness all around, he saw spirits. He told his Dad and his Mom and his brother but no one believed him. Plus, all those songs about water, waves, tides, thunderstorms; what if he were to be washed up into a cyclone in the Hudson? What if all this were just a dream, and his crying penis was neither crying nor a penis but just some puppet from Sesame Street let loose into his life to make mischief among big birds, elephants? Not that he wasn’t completely looking forward to all these challenges; just that now that he’s thwarted, he can’t sleep.

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#12 I need a chauffer, please, to help me through this. Every time I enter one of these trains, I see one of these spic hustlers sticking a needle into my guts. Look, it’s the fat pregnant lady, everyone, far too old to be doing this, but doing it anyway. Hours of typing, hours and hours, just for these lawyers. It’s always briefs that sound more official than me and my child. Husband is too strong a word. Me and the girls go down to the Midtown Deli, and in my head I say, I’ll have a Heineken, please. Oh, the slush and sleaze of it, Midtown in a buzz. Ten years ago this was a playground, with slides. Now I’m too concerned with my fermented insides. Yes, I’ll call for a limo tomorrow, with a wet bar.

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#13 Could I have finished the degree I started as a kid? Clump of dorms, all these guys proving themselves; I used to love to use the line about being their friend. To watch snow fall from a heated dorm room, as your roommate cowers beneath a pleated comforter while you fool around with a newfangled theater ace: apogee. The taste of him beneath me, exercise of perfected strengths, lip muscles, special tender dips, tongue-arts: then the sudden rush, the presto sense of having done it again, his mouth open, glaze-eyed look, half-hidden by this narrow space unlighted, transgression felt every which way: I’ve never been happier or more free. I was a swallower of all kinds of swords, including his. Then, I’d kick them out, cause I still slept, dopey me.

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#14 I had nice thoughts about some of these guys. Joey, the theater ace, wrote plays, and he babbled to me about Ionesco, how what he wrote would be the next logical step forward, into a kind of abyss, and that I could help him achieve this, just in sucks. He’d read the monologues sometimes to us in different rooms and there really were gorgeous passages, and I made him promise to keep in touch. For a few months he was working in the Lower East Side and there was some interest. Now he works in real estate, and says that money seems more permanent than art. Hank was the resident guitar genius, of course I not only blew him but slept with him, and he wrote me country rock songs in the manner of the Eagles. His studded belt now catches third graders, mortgage bills.

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#15 I need a limo to take me to the grocery store: that would be especially glamorous. Groupie in the back seat, long cascades of blonde hair with ringlets at the front, midriff shirt, hands pressed down my pants, mouth slightly ajar from booze and painkiller combos, so that I’d be fiddled with in the few minutes before I’d have to enter Shop-Rite for orange juice, pickles, chicken tenders, spaghetti, red sauce, milk, all because my real bitch, she of the fat ass, thunder thighs, sudden whims, might have a midnight hankering for Neapolitan, as I myself now have more or less three streaks: shit brown, eyeball white, strawberry red, so I still change stripes.

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#16 O, deadbeat me; snug as a bug in a rug, stoned. I might eat this Neapolitan all myself, so soft, so creamy, so like the life I deserve but do not have. How be mad? She both has the kids (we’re sure to have a bunch, I’ve got this unbridled potency, she’s short enough we can do it standing up, maybe in the bathroom at Manny’s, as they roll out the Al Green covers on karaoke night), works, am I a jerk to be basking in the privileges of almost father hood? At least I’m still— what’s the word— continent, at least I can wait to jerk off until she’s not around. We should have parties here with the Manny’s girls. It would liven up these awful wood-floored rooms. It always feels like the first time with Manny’s girls.

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#17 He picks up the shitty guitar, puts his hand where G chord is supposed to be, begins to strum. He wants to sing Wonderful Tonight to put him in a romantic mood for her return but stumbles going from D to C. So he just thrashes away on G, improvises words about ex-girlfriends and this one, who (let’s face it) might as well be. He changes tempo every few bars to make things interesting, makes it to D, and voila, he’s a rock star once again. Backstage, he fends off the usual radio/record company folk, tells his guitar tech where he wants his guitars kept from now on, gets the road manager to round up his girls for a private session in the cramped but impeccably catered dressing room (pigs in blankets, cold cut spreads, apple fritters), plays food games with the girls, but (oops!) this really is the guy from the big magazine, time for an interview, see you later, girls.

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#18 She gets home to find him asleep, a tableaux: mouth slightly ajar, glasses laid on the night table, still in his Yankees cap, to hide the shaming baldness he found repels the Manny’s girls— they of the pinkish lips, truly tight asses, who hang around Staten Island as though Manhattan were a distant dream; lays of Italian dudes in leisure suits in backs of dusty Japanese cars. This, her sort-of husband, is the kind of kid she never would’ve taken seriously when she had her looks, when her black bangs melded with her face’s perfect oval to sear her image onto so many groins she thinks she can still see the plaintive glances. Ice cream, she thinks, she needs ice cream, dissolutions in sugar and cream to give her the rightful death of this.

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#19 As she spoons the stuff into her mouth, wishing he tasted like this, she remembers that musical she was in, in high school: Fiddler on the Roof. It’s that song Tevya sings that tweaks her: “If I were a Rich Man.” That’s right, Tevya, you and the rest of the world. She thinks to herself, Tevya at least got to be the star of the musical, I got caught in the chorus. To think of having to get in those cut-cloth get-ups to be in all these scenes, just to lurk in the fucking chorus: I should’ve quit when the cast list went up. “Cast list” intoxicates her brain with possibilities, a sense that maybe there will be more cast lists somehow in the future: she could start doing theater, maybe finally break through with something creative. Moms sometimes still do creative things. She builds him into the He-Man he isn’t; that he can and must be responsible, a mensch behind the wheel, a stud in bed, safe as milk for the kids, even chucking their diapers.

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#20 There was the lunch reverie about college and then this dinner reverie about high school: I feel like a crab, going backwards. How can I move forward again? In the end, I know it’s me and the kid alone. It said in the paper today they have a new bill that requires everyone to receive Health Insurance. Does that mean I can kick his sorry ass out, and not worry that he’ll wind up with a needle in his arm in Tompkins Square Park? Am I beholden to him forever for a few good shots? Here, she pauses to cry, thinking of him prowling the East Village, as he was when she picked him up for the first time. He was so innocent and so charming, throwing in little quotes from all these love sonnets his girls wrote for him. She had convinced herself that stability was latent in him. The baby-like white of his bare torso depressed her, even if it heralded (she had decided) a noble, creative existence.

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#21 The thing about Manny’s, he thinks, is that it’s a tiny bar with a tiny mentality but no one here quite realizes it: the girls in halter-tops do their hair-flips, the Italian guys insist on different key points about the Giants, but the girls in halter-tops can’t do anything in the world but hook-up with these leisure suit guys. That, of course, is where I come in, cause it’s “fun night,” so that she sips a Diet Coke, my eyes prowl around, there’s one with black hair and a solid faked tan as if she’s spent time in a kiln. He scoots over, leaving his very pregnant mistress, and enjoys the sensation of moving between discrete worlds, as though he’s a globe-trotting superstar, too big for entanglements to limit his feeling of himself as a Zen arrow.

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#22 He wasn’t expecting to feel a sense of degradation as he sat down next to her, her baked skin exuding perfume. It’s the scent of another world, of sex that happens that might as well be shopping: scent of malls, mall vanities. It is arousing, he’s aroused; her black hair flips in huge danger waves towards his crotch. I’m intrepid, he thinks, this is pioneering work, and since I can’t write poems anymore, it’s all justified: she wants me to be creative again, as if giving her a baby isn’t enough. He sets down his beer, subjects this girl to one of his long, caressing stares, adjusts his Yankees cap to make his eyes visible. She pouts and, miraculously, is not surrounded by a group of raven-haired hair-flippers. “Can I buy you another drink?” She half-nods, looks vaguely towards him, down.

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#23 She’s doing a crosswords puzzle while he does this, which, he knows, means he’s being humored, a willful kid at an arcade, who forces his Mommy to wait. He notices this girl’s pink sweatpants and zip-up sweatshirt with a hood, and decides that football is a safe topic. She agrees, and the conversation begins and does many strange somersaults as they both realize what the situation is, that she can make an interception here. He’s got the hangman’s erection yet, but there remains an insurmountable problem; wifey’s got the car keys. If there is to be a hook-up, it has to happen here. Luckily, it’s not that cold and he has half a joint in his wallet. They take a hike into fresh air to get stoned. Once out there, they look at the stars, he thinks of arrows going through space, and then he is, for real (for once) up against her, seriously, and likes the feeling.

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#24 Sandra, she says her name is, tipping her blackened head onto his chest, wracked as it is by coughs. He introduces himself as Ronnie, who lives on the island with his big sister. She happens to be pregnant and is humoring him here at Manny’s. Heads leaned close, she tells him she’s got a boy friend, but they happen to be fighting, she’s out on her own (an errant lamb, in his mind). Exquisite tensions force his hands to smooth down her back, anchors sinking to plant themselves someplace solid. Sandra doesn’t want to kneel, touch, kiss; just this little grab in autumn’s wasted chill is enough.

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#25 Ronnie is nearing the end of his rope. As he lays in bed with Jess, he aches to hold Sandra ever so much closer. Would conceiving another child (as Jess’s remains unborn) be against any laws? Jess, of course, not only knows what Ronnie thinks (she had snuck behind the dumpster to monitor his progress, Diet Coke still in hand, as though watching a particularly juicy brawl in which her big male antagonist was getting throttled), she knows there will be Sandra, then another, then another, but until the man learns to earn his own living he will come home to roost with her. There: a vicious thought he deserves. All she vetoes is an exchange with sperm.

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#26 Jess’s ascension; she rises, both quick and dead, over this many times (and many ways) bespattered bed, into a scene of youth; utopic suburbs, bikes with bells, how trees looked in May with not much school left. Succession of images; diasporas of life, miniaturized, in many directions. She liked church, then; thrills of new words, “benediction,” “annunciation,” “absolution,” and in her streams upwards she responds to a whim that God is more preoccupied with minutiae than many think. God in candy hearts, suck-rings, bags of midnight-snuck potato chips, and she hears what God thinks of this (perverse humor of an imp?), hears herself hearing (thirty years later) and passes swift, merciful judgment on all things unborn, liminal, or born. Pregnant women, she has heard, are plugged into the universe; a cascade of white/blue lights descends. Jess flies, over putrid stagnant Hudson, absence of twin towers, corrugated Chrysler building, and this is deep, permanent, blessed with air and fire scars.

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#27 Then appeared the angel: not delicate and feline, but raw, rough, determined. She presents familiar scenes to Jess, demands answers. Jess is in a weatherless place, sparked with stars. She starts thus: I know the lies that ride high and roughshod over my existence. That I have looked at many surfaces while motives remained hidden, and believed them; that I have willfully lied to create, maintain, and retrospectively preserve appearances; that I have contrived to fix things not meant to be fixed in eternal patterns; all this I know. But this is all held within the confines of a dream; I will wake up unawares, carrying a circular burden, determined to efface (without being conscious) these lessons. I want to know how these things may be carried across; why I am subjected to the torment of deep truth and abasement. Here, the scene changes; another panorama; Jess tosses within a sense of flailing over Fifth Ave., vacated and loosed from concrete forms. Now she is wrapped, uncomfortably swaddled; now she jerks up in bed to hear Ronnie’s snores, comfortably folded back into short wheezes. What’s next?

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#28 When I woke the next morning, something had changed. I looked at Ronnie, as he dragged his sorry ass out of bed; sunken-in chest, bald head, baseball cap worn (out of vanity) even to breakfast, slumped shoulders that express raw needs, cast out onto me like damp nets; and I realized I could see a path of purity, running out like a lane at a tangent to this. The problem is the mercy I cast out onto others. I’m a fish, born St. Patrick’s Day; my parts flake off. I’ve always encouraged others to pick flakes off of my body. I’m middle-aged; my spirit isn’t robust. So I have a fish-maze to work through, that I might expunge this minutely voracious predator, and bear a child, to/for myself. The cost, for Ronnie, is not less than everything: he will be sent spinning like a plastic top in search of a sickbed. He will again be at the mercy of parents who force black veils over his mouth, crotch. It will have been me to spin the threads of the veil. Meanwhile, the eggs are fried, the bacon ready, orange juice, coffee.

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#29 Here’s how Jess does penance: she doesn’t just kick him out on his ass (in her mind), she throws his belongings into the Hudson, and him along with them. She’s moving, she thinks, not only towards parturition but towards departure (from this, from him, into a sacred two-person space, mother and child). But look: he’s there on the couch, watching the late cartoons, rolling another bomber she (inadvertently) purchased. She digs down deep for a spine, and there’s something there (is there something there?) No more flights backwards: the situation has achieved maximum density. “Hey look, all the little guys in this are fluorescent,” he says. “Isn’t it a little early to be lighting up?” He clears his throat, ignores her question; laughs at cartoon antics. Outside, a car screeches to a halt. There is some kind of argument, neither is interested enough to look. Twin diffidence relaxes into obliviousness. But Jess has felt an inkling of something, holds onto it. You can’t take a vision away from a dreamer, she thinks, but there are (she knows) options still available to her. The first is to cut off his allowance, so that the first tang of Hudson might sully his lips. She begins to prepare a speech.

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#30 Ladies and gentlemen, you are here today to witness the reverse of a benediction. This boy, this man-child at best, has willingly fertilized my body. If I curse him, it is with the caveat enjoined that my will has been (and remains) compromised. But the curse must be planted, a bad seed with good consequences, and it is three-fold: against his body, a scrawny, pale, hairless contrivance, which festers in every conceivable vice, funded (in my frailty) by me; his soul, lost in dreams of easy fame, self-expressed in facile, mediocre verse; and his mind, balanced like slow-to-melt snow on brittle branches, worn down by too many dry seasons. I hailed this convocation of angels because I am building, building. The crescendo must be this man’s expulsion, orchestrated to resolve in a minor key for him, major key for me. At this, Jess’s head snaps up, and she realizes she’s been dreaming. Yet the dreams are closing in. Ronnie’s asleep too; its five o’clock in the afternoon. The newscaster says, “in other news today, temperatures are down all over Manhattan. The weather is coming up next when we return to News at Five.” For once, Jess sneaks a bit off of Ronnie’s spliff. Nothing left to do but work. And it’s a long sleepless slog to the next rest stop along the winding way.

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#31 She just did it. I woke up and she said, “Look outside the apartment door. You got a package.” It was all my belongings— a trunk and two big leather bags. “The guitar’s mine,” she said, though I begged. So here I am on a bus to take a plane, to take a car, back to cheese-land. I can’t even get high; I have to work to stay awake. I know that when I look back on this, I’ll say “All those Staten Island nights. That’s when I had it made the most. I had it all.” What am I supposed to say? I can’t face a life of work, I have a hobo’s soul, I’m meant to drift through aimless days. He boards a flight to Chicago, his Mom will be there at Midway to meet him. She’ll be in clod-hoppers, glasses, inquiring after his health, unaware that a grandchild is on the way. That’s me, she thinks, always oblivious because I need to be. Ronnie sleeps on the plane, having snuck a valium in his sneaker. Somehow (he wasn’t expecting) it missed detection. Somehow he also managed to miss detection. He’ll have a kid, his cheese-land friends won’t know. Between children and poems, he will leave a legacy to the world. Thoughts he leans on amid the lightning-storm turbulence, unsteady as random shots.

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#32 The gossip goes round: Jess kicked her house-boy out. He’s back to the farm. Who will wait for Jess’s water to break? Who assembles the crib? The office and the old crowd are abuzz, as Jess knows. So what? She has two or three friends in her back pocket that have lasted, will last. She’s too old to fly blind, even if she’s forced to hover near the ground (as she is). You should’ve seen us at Manny’s, she tells them. All the baked-skin beauties went for my little man-child. Yet there is an edge of regret in her voice, for what age does to a human heart. Degradations never end— she has never weighed more, and the spics (she thinks) on the train (God help her if her water breaks) laugh at her jerky movements, appalled lurches. But I’ve got my back up, she thinks, because I passed this test: to get rid of the pest (who is, her friends note with half-smiles, the father of her child). Oddly, Jess often feels like a little girl; her mind bounces around, just like the child within her (who could be either: no ultrasound). She sees the future through her child’s eyes. There are joys, panics, outbursts, setbacks, but all impelled by a clear sense of forward motion. The chorus of her song falls a full step back, and juts a step up again.

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#33 It’s a girl. Jess names her Marissa; she is given Jess’s last name. Her friends get her to and from the hospital. When she returns with Marissa, the apartment (a studio with a bedroom for the child) is stripped of all Ronnie’s traces— calendars, pictures of bands, shots of stars. Jess accepts the fate of a single mother— every night sleepless, every day harried. At least the office allows a substantial maternity leave. Sometimes, as the child naps, Jess watches the sun set over unlovely Staten Island and finds it beautiful as Paris. It isn’t just that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, she thinks; it’s something buried that can be dug up. One thing Jess likes to dig up are her old journals, especially the teenage ones. She always comes back to the same entry: the day she lost her virginity. April 7, 1987: O my God, I did it! That’s it, that’s the whole entry. She feels the same way right now. Memories drift back: she was big into Peter Gabriel in those days; she was playing in the chorus of “Pajama Game”; the boy that did the deed was (of course) one of the leads. It all happened because he got stuck needing a ride after rehearsal. She was the driver, as she is now. Virginity is a state of mind. Jess feels twenty-three years of filth have been effaced.

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#34 Post-script: visions of Staten Island through a child’s eyes. Row after row of duplexes; apartment complexes (different color bricks, red, white, brown), places for food, clothes, everything she needs. There is only one deep fulcrum of activity: Mommy. She, also a kind of brick with changes, revealing different things: moments of calm, of strife, of bursts into silliness, a wheel spinning. When Jess pushes the carriage around (a mall, say), the brown, baked girls thank their lucky stars they don’t have kids. Yet, they suppress jealousy: something there so rested, composed, steady. Down at Manny’s, Ronnie’s flame works on new guys. Ronnie reclines on a Wisconsin farm, where he works, unaware that Marissa, when she plays, soon finds out what a “Daddy” is. On the nights when Jess can sleep, she sees wide vistas, open spaces, but with a sense that the angels hold her back. There is work unfinished; somewhere on the horizon, something looms. Awake, she knows as Marissa grows, as her body changes, aches will come that cannot be assuaged. All the questions she has found answers to will be asked again; all the old contrivances will be explored, from new angles. Marissa’s blue eyes stick; auburn hair. What sticks is mystery.

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Revolver
By Adam Fieled

Taxman
These papers we move around: indisputably your life. You are more form (to be filled out by me) than flesh & blood; I go home at night to drink, thinking of nothing, not you. I am form, too, to be pushed around, & yes pennies cover my eyes, & I look for depth, perceive none. Covered in cuts, I am Mr. Paper, I cut, am cut, will cut, am cutting. I will hurt you like you won’t believe. I hurt, too, somewhere beneath.

Eleanor Rigby
She kneels in prayer, is distracted by a dust-mote, mind moving back before two wars that took everything. Mum, look at the butterfly. Father, look at the caterpillar. It is night. Father looks at a book ordered specially to disturb him. God is Dead, & yes it may be. Godless World, so it seems. Certainly no God in a dusty room; how could God fit in here? She fits the coffin right well, he thinks. No reason for her life to go on. No reason for any life to, really. We’ve made our lives up from nothing, including what’s holy: because we’re lonely.

I’m Only Sleeping
There was a knife in my back but it wasn’t my back, a song being sung that wasn’t a song, then I was floating in a bunch of colors, now I think I see myself there. Yes, I definitely am, I’m there but not quite here in moving, in floating, I think I heard a voice w the knife, it was in my head, talking to me but I was on something’s side, couldn’t hear. Now I am deliciously dead in ecstasy, because not yet.

Love You To
You don’t connect it: our lovemaking with identity questions, any more than my fingers pointing at the moon are, in fact, a kind of moon, that can enter your physical entity & give you a new (albeit brief) identity. I weave in & out of you, in & out of me, you don’t get time to say I’m this or that, because how can I be, being entity?

Here, There, and Everywhere
I love the seven veils of satin you have laid me with. I love sharp spikes leaping from your eyes when I laugh at a chance flippant remark. I love these things expecting them to change. I love changes happening every time I run my hands through your hair. It’s everywhere.

Yellow Submarine
Out on the ocean, sailing away, I saw a wave dally, it smiled, said my name, it was playing, it broke in a way expressing its shape, all over me, & now here I am about to allegorize the fucking thing, Sunny Jim…

She Said She Said
Don’t back me into a fucking corner, don’t tell me to see what you see, I’ve been around the block (dizzy as any windmill, right as any rain, febrile, fleeting & fleeing), I don’t care about how you died & came back, I don’t want to put my hands on your death-wound (or deathwish or death-cry), just sit there quietly like a good girl & watch the way the grandfather clock works: tick, tock.

Good Day Sunshine
I never knew what jocund din meant until I sat under a beech & felt beechen, & heard a redbreast, w hands on your breasts, shadows numberless in a thousand kisses, boy what Catullus missed by being born too early, I mean this is really the life, I don’t think Paul McCartney was ever this happy, Keats of course not, Wordsworth maybe, w Mary, but of course jocund din could never be for him what is for me: a blowjob under a tree.

And Your Bird Can Sing
If you’re Princess Leia to my Han Solo: laugh it up, fuzzball. My Millennium Falcon has a chess board, I just took your rook, see pieces float, what dreams may come include a queen & king, you & I, détente, or at least ceasefire, I can’t relax in this atmosphere of singing birds, one on your shoulder, who are you, Rimbaud?

For No One
I made eggs for breakfast: go ahead, they’re for you. Don’t worry about what’s happened: I don’t hold it against you. Born under an arachnid’s star, you can’t help but sting. If I’m left high & dry in thin air, it’s my fault, not yours. Tell him I wish him (you) well, I think he’s (you’re) very lucky, not all of us have a passionate fate. Some of us look forward to scrambled eggs, maybe even tea if we feel ambitious. Here, Red Zinger: delicious.

Doctor Robert
I don’t know if either you or I believe in home repair, but I do know this: transparent windows in text are not impossible, even if the pane happens to be made of sentiment. You can use panes of shaded glass, if you think transparency too much of a cop-out, but for God’s sake don’t forget that, if you’re lucky, there may be someone reading, who wants to know about you, ( just you, like just spring) not have a frigid finicky finger pointed back in his/her face. You don’t have to be Romantic to be romantic.

I Want to Tell You
There are systems & systems & this one doesn’t work for me, though you do, which is why I urge you, dump this system, it’s only there to hang you from a flagpole & make you wave & give you a wedgie & then you’ll have to write the same poem a thousand times, & see the way they posture & pull each other down & make up funny names for each other & the whole thing ends in a dialogue not intelligent enough to be even Rabelaisian & that’s really saying something & so am I, here, now— when they bid you, don’t bow

Got to Get You Into My Life
I was alone, I rode down through tunnels, mucus walled, I nosed a way through, no dope. I thought I was in the Void: I was wrong, this was just like a way to get to Brooklyn via spirit e-mail. I picked up the requisite drawl, the Mona Lisa half-smile, sensual mutter, how to rub a woman’s back, bathe w her, give her a physical home. I was riding through you. I still haven’t found what I’m looking for: no matter. It’s no sin to go slow.

Tomorrow Never Knows
It is not dying: where I go when I close my eyes & the world shuts in upon itself & gives me the womb of fear I need to forget fear. Nothing shines but the light at the end where I catch hold of myself floating inward/ outward & I know how I connect to the cosmos & I am palpitating gently but intensely & separations do not exist except to point to deeper unities of sperm & egg & rhythm & motion & release & fucking & what’s behind it & loving & what’s behind it & dying & what’s behind it & the answer is nothing, nothing at all, all or nothing, at one, a tone, atone

****Cover shot taken by Mary Harju in Clark Park, West Philadelphia, 2002****