Issue 19, Poesía | September 2016
Ruminations on CK
I bought the book used from a shop downtown
in February when we had class and read gibberish from
some slim volume that told us how to be a poet.
The book I bought was secret out of false necessity.
Its lines grew mile-wide and played like a twelve-string in tune.
Its images were fine.
Its voice spoken like a phonograph, a single voice,
a gravel tone stretched by cigarettes and age.
It was pure.
It inferred the water glass but never declared
itself the ocean, and when he went
we were broken. He’s real, his lines breathe
in the book I loaned you, but the stove’s gone cold,
no more fresh loaves. We’ve got to make do, Ziploc
what we’ve got to keep it crisp, but no, that won’t do, it’ll die
in that anaerobic hole, suffocate on the fumes of solitude.
How, then, do we keep him? What of his women
and their morbid forms frozen in his verbiage?
Where do we go without
The LED spectacle at the coffeehouse
when we sat cold and dry out of the deluge, when
our vision kaleidoscope in the Technicolor display,
how the strobe hysteria throbbed and pulsed, and danced
on the wire-mesh tabletop, and refracted in the rain,
and together we explored childhood.
And the cold bit us,
told us the things of maturity. There are no ambulance sirens
for heartbreak, no hives for that honey.
Flies, no meat,
no life or rotting.
That’s when we knew that sweet doesn’t necessitate true—
freedom ceases abstraction, grows wings,
and you’ll wash it off
your windshield on the drive home. You’ll grow to hate
the choices that every man and silent voice tells you to make.
That’s age twenty-one in a clause; the ease of indecision.
You want to be a poet.
You are a poet; you put words to page
in particular order, but no,
you want to be a poet.
That noun lives in your mind, smokes cheap cigarettes in a studio
sunk deep in the Village, ’58.
You see its fingers, blue with cheap cartridges
it lifted from the pawn at street-level. You think you see it, him, her,
breathing, sleeping alone or with another ink-fingered noun, and shit,
that might be right—
or it might be an old noun,
slacked and jacketed, letting you in, showing you
the room it dines in, and its reading room, and writing room,
and tells you its creative habits (it sits there knowing
it can never write the unwritten).
I won’t say which noun is real,
and they’ll only say which has a pension. But I knew I found the noun
in the words, and in the pages, and in the covers, and in the portrait
on the front of a thin man, frostbitten by time but grinning a half-grin
in a park, in a city, in autumn.
That was the noun, the life itself,
the eyes imprinted with a thousand lines of verse,
and that was the verb—