Varieties of Cool
A friend had a friend who winked us past rope lines,
we were enskyed for one night in hipness
it was boring
the champagne tasted no better than wonderful
the music was the same lobotomy of thump
that had been playing for years as dissent
from our Puritan roots
then we freed ourselves in a cab, something yellow
that wasn’t a flower but wanted to be, sang
“Homeward Bound” passably to be happy about melancholy
and teach the driver from Sri Lanka a thing or two
about the American wistfulness for home
all the way to the Brooklyn Bridge
and walked across the night and water
that I got down on my belly and said hello to
through the wooden slats
in Brooklyn Heights we ate grapes and waved
at all the effort by the various Carnegies
and Seagrams to live forever, my friend had a cough
that became an acronym, I sat beside his missing
a man with my missing a woman in front of homes
we knew from movies but appeared less famous
than cozy at four in the morning as we tried
to decide which house wanted to adopt us
I couldn’t get over the grapes
he said, That’s New York, you can get anything
as long as it’s not what you really need
he didn’t say that
I’m confusing him with Mick Jagger and this poem
with a novel, he said something and I did
back and forth, it was quiet and that’s how
conversation works, the grapes were good
and the night air had no idea how bad
his cough would get, I am grateful
that, on balance, the absence of stars
in Manhattan is offset by the number of lights
there’s no reason to leave on but people do
To the Reader: Twilight
Whenever I look
out at the snowy
mountains at this hour
and speak directly
into the ear of the sky,
it’s you I’m thinking of.
You’re like the spirits
the children invent
to inhabit the stuffed horse
and the doll.
I don’t know who hears me.
I don’t know who speaks
when the horse speaks.
Standing nearby I spot a small group, two women and two girls. The women are middle-aged and dressed in plain winter coats, the girls in woolen animal hats and coloured fleeces. I suppose I notice them because none of them looks like the other.
I try to imagine who they are to one another. It becomes obvious as the taller of the two girls touches one of the women at the base of her neck, silently seeking permission, an intimate gesture from a daughter to her mother. The woman indicates that it’s OK with an ease that suggests it is something she’s used to agreeing to.
The girl peels of her fleece and heads in the direction of the music. She slips into the centre of the crowd, which parts as if her arrival was expected. Her body moves freely, without a glimpse of posturing or adult mimicry. This is a dance of her own making, her own spontaneity.
Venessa Winship she dances on Jackson
I was born in Mesa, Arizona, in 1985. My mom said I looked like Charlie Brown. I never saw the Grand Canyon or the Petrified Forest. My grandma was a truck driver and my grandpa liked race cars; his favorite driver was Richard Petty. My grandma died of cancer; she let me pull some of her hair out. My grandpa touched my penis; I never saw him again. I remember collecting cicada shells off picket fences, the 127-degree summer day, stealing lighters, setting stuff on fire, getting punched in the stomach, being attached by a pit bull, and digging in the dirt with silverware until the handles bent. My dad said he was stoned when he married my mom, said he “banged hundreds of sluts.” He flew through a car windshield once and survived. He wrestled five cops in our kitchen; there was pepper spray all over my bedroom door.
Mike Brodie A Period of Juvenile Prosperity
The Heaven of Animals
Here they are. The soft eyes open.
If they have lived in a wood
It is a wood.
If they have lived on plains
It is grass rolling
Under their feet forever.
Having no souls, they have come,
Anyway, beyond their knowing.
Their instincts wholly bloom
And they rise.
The soft eyes open.
To match them, the landscape flowers,
Outdoing what is required:
The richest wood,
The deepest field.
For some of these,
It could not be the place
It is, without blood.
These hunt, as they have done,
But with claws and teeth grown perfect
More deadly than they can believe.
They stalk more silently,
And crouch on the limbs of trees,
And their descent
Upon the bright backs of their prey
May take years
In a sovereign floating of joy.
And those that are hunted
Know this as their life,
Their reward: to walk
Under such trees in full knowledge
Of what is in glory above them,
And to feel no fear,
But acceptance, compliance.
Fulfilling themselves without pain
At the cycle’s center,
They tremble, they walk
Under the tree,
They fall, they are torn,
They rise, they walk again.