Scantily Clad Press, 2008
Some of these poems appeared in Cimarron Review, Epoch, Glitterpony, and Jacket. “Woke With It” and “George W. Bush” were written in 2006; the other poems were written between 1995 and 2002.
POPULISME What began as affirmation ended in bloodshed. Arbor Day would never be the same again.
PRESENTABLE DISSENT doorward goes the face with its eyes smirk toward the shot and sob
no luster in this forgetfulness
the new currency
degenerate fuck your brains clusters of nothing but * yawn yourself asleep by nine take THEM by surprise
no one say no
to say or
where to go from here further
* welcome blackandwhite and nothing
the new porn
QUOTATION MULES A man gets up and leaves the reading loudly when “God is fucked.” A woman leaves when “tits.” A man when “burs.” Two men when “fag.” A boy when “expedite.” Four men when “sorrow pool.” A baby and a man when “cardinal.” A baby and a woman when “top hat.” A boy and a girl when “shuffle” [“shuttle”?]. Four girls when “despot.” Three boys when “squid.” A girl when “contemporaneous.” A girl when “hairshirt.” Two men and a woman when “slattern.” A girl when “corpse.” A man when “clusterfuck.” A man when “grackle.” A man when “cork.” Three men when “donation.” A woman and a boy when “puppet.” A man and a woman when “pearl necklace.” A man when “horse’s cunt.” A boy when “hate.” A girl when “clapper.” A girl when “fake princess.”
AFTER DESULTORY DISCUSSION, THE MEETING ADJOURNED but not before territorialisms were tabled having been ID’d and established by proxy, the possibility of agency questioned to the point of faith-in-the-systemic loss. Sore position, the margin of the margin, from which this Bruce works, asserts he was the hotshot flaunted. A flagrant foul, clotheslining the spectator on the wrong side of the chalkline. Shameful. I don’t know about your standards, y’all, but mine are top-notch, I know my vines. “Bemused” would not begin to describe the spittoon as a fountain is more more.
WOKE WITH IT These days Iâ€™ve been living in Nebraska but sleeping in Wyoming. The shin splints!
DUSTY OR NOT, THIS GIRDLE has feelings too. It feels constricted. Why is this couch so lumpy? Because it is stuffed with girdles? A car is idling two houses down from this house. Because it is almost midnight I grab the shotgun. No car should have four headlights.
OLD NAKED POETS Bought the land for nothing but what was handed down.
SOLIPSISM, DIDACTICISM, AND THE POLITICS OF POETRY Debilitated fellatio You cannot blow
je m’appelle doubleve what you cannot find
It’s not like envy is in fashion or even on the radar the plane the clouds They just want Bleach their skin
what we have they’re still not WHITE
Dust rides the afternoon sun as the bed moves with the earth to take it The function of breath
These asthmatic judgments
declarations How much cocaine is still in your system is that what you mean by GOD One don’t need to read It’s all about choosing
to run a country the people to think for you
As if a movement a massacre a massive hatred could be reduced to one man Nazism flying
as the madonna
The ultimate goal of abstraction is to grease the killing machines I would not say Those billboards
they’re faceless over there
Someone sent me a hateful email and did not sign his name
I am a caricature Poetry is not political
an effigy is not surveillance
I suspect my principles are not shared by my stalker the PRESIDENT the clouds Speak from crust Remove that individual
to core to the center
I write my little bits only after he has fallen asleep Cock flaccid
Sticky from sex
Yet rising to decorate the glory the money the planes the radar of GOD
HERE’S AN ORGY FOR YOU On a good day you would end there, the hint of a sonnet like come in your palm—fun at first then—blossom!—a mess to hide from mom. If only you could publish what your cock creates. That would give new meaning to “the day’s poem,” “the work of a day.” But no one cares what you say. This you know. And this: however it ends, you’ll end up spent, passive octave to an aggressive sestet. Too full of yourself to throw out a couplet or trim the fat. Too busy to learn to love your own waste, call it product.
GEORGE W. BUSH She calls him mushroom head b/c his brain is a fungus nothing edible as itâ€™s terrible to behold w/sight or smell like the dog-vomit fungus dappled across the mulch it poofs into the air when touched tickles the nose but is otherwise harmless unlike artillery fungus which shoots itself up to fifteen feet up onto a house or on top will not come off or down and is attracted by light and which none of us has seen
HIT AND RUN High school is the interminable wedgie, high school is my pep rally deluxe, high school is all shades of gray and beer smuggled inside cereal boxes, high school is cheerleaders’ vague crotches, disinvitations and forgotten names, two beers and a wine cooler with whiplash and broken glass and perfect attendance for he whose nose is held to the books by the promise of something less sad than the knowledge high school is the last place you’re expected to be every day, where you’re missed if your big steaming bowl of a head falls asleep against the shower tiles and you live too far away to walk, where a nose bleed is not assumed to be from coke though it is, high school is not liking to smoke but smoking anyway, a pack a day, high school is ten cases of Coors unloaded into your trunk behind the Winn Dixie, high school is timing, is circling, is watching, high school is talking your way out of, high school is hitting a hundred in your friend’s step-mother’s Camero, high school is jacking off to her face after, high school is a stand-up fuck in the woods, in the dining room, on its table, in the rocker, on the living room floor, high school is promising to pull out and forgetting to pull out, high school is baby oil for suntans
and bikini bottoms pulled aside for quick slippery fucks on the deck, high school is what showed you how little you thought of others, how little others thought of you, high school is the dog you hit while picking up the fourth leg of a double date, high school is not stopping to see if the dog, which yelped when struck, survived.
NEITHER REMOTE NOR INTIMATE
Not a bit. Not a bit and not an obit. Not two bits, not three. Not urgent. Not your gents, decidedly not your gents. Not a blanket, not a blank check. Not blanked. Not blank it. Not certain. Not certain of any of it. Certainly not. Decidedly certainly not certain of any of it. Not a knee. Not any of it. Not a nuisance. Not insouciance, not now. Not a chance. Not a gripe or a blame or a trope. Not a grip, not a trip. Decidedly not easy, not yet. Not now and not yet. Not light not heavy not dark not flame. Not a blame. Not a bother. Not a bit of it. Not hot. Not summer, not yet. Not blanked not gripped. Not now not never not ever not yet. Not medieval means. Not middle not evil not mean. Not yet. Not vile. Never vile. Decidedly not vile. Never evil never blank. Never a bit, not yet. Never now. Never yet.
ONE TOUGH CUSTOMER A flawed if/then proposition The one wave lolling at the sand The boy with the melons tilting But not buckling: Laziness is no excuse Before it disappears the scree succumbs To wanderlust and other entertainments In an effort to enjoy its final days As a haphazard pile of rocks The boy digusted at such a display Removes his wares from the sand
Brian Henry's most recent books are In the Unlikely Event of a Water (Equipage), The Stripping Point (Counterpath), and Quarantine (Ahsahta). His translation of Tomaz Salamun's Woods and Chalices appeared in 2008 from Harcourt.