Scantily Clad Press, 2009
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS A few of these poems previously appeared in the journals Big Bell and
Monday If you too are what I am, then it really is hot in here now. Our eyes know it. They’re the first to like identical twins, and we’re the first to talk about their complementary haircuts. In light of ambiguity, it’s somebody’s originals that are getting old. I am upended by your smell and my shame. Therefore, from one hitchhiker to another, of course we missed our stop, and now our culture is done with us, and love makes up for luck.
Tuesday I hope so much for the rabbling intentions of our future, that they remain something we consider enough to erect a separate guest house for, with sprinklers that don’t cost too much, don’t cost anyone too much, oh Christ, the country. One dish falls and the others will not. I clean it up, and then you clean it up, yet it’s years later that we remember who did what, finally pulling the mattress all the way down the hall to sleep on anything we missed. Perennial, bad romanticism. Well, it depends who calls who babe. You wrapped the robot all wrong. I’m getting infected again.
Wednesday I am tired and mindless, still hooded, it’s clear to me now, under the reaches of an ocean that’s begun slowly emptying itself out for a clear refilling. In finite terms, a bus is coming. For the curious, yes, these are our work clothes, and there is the bathroom, and one of us will never see the other again. There are long standing nights that I am hoping you’ll take over, so many mornings of thuddingly unsure supremacy, instead of suddenly I’m sure there’s a pharmacy. I love you. You are sick and I am not helping. I’ll call around and see what’s still open.
Thursday The skies can keep their unmatched heights as long as the innocent, very innocent, continue raining down in distant sheets, not quite asking for it. Remote locations will never trust people like us— our flattops, our white suits made for August oceans, our walks, purposeful of reaching somewhere just safely out of reach. I will refuse any event, even if it could be repositioned, for you. I imagined all my undersized memories as more capable of change. We have the withdrawn suddenness to protect. We’ve got to do something. There’s no time to write this down.
Friday I want evening after evening after evening after more than ever. I want the right one, even if I don’t mean what I say. I have a grace that makes a noise like a lumbar yard accidentally dropped from the twelfth floor into a once so simple night. I am glad. That’s what I call it. ‘It’ is a memory that now knows how to begin again, glued into hearing its own calming urge. Be welcome. You are welcome. There’s movement to hang on to, so care.
Saturday I think it sounds reasonable even before you say it. I ruin my own stories by wishing for a load of bad taste to appear or loading up on old fashioned beams of light, known to come crashing down. This is about white hair on kids who don’t even know it. But we do, and it hurts. You don’t have to tell me we’ll die before laughing. But please tell me it will take forever again to go on seeing the same thing twice.
Sunday I’d comment on how thunder commits itself too much to the longing. I’m sure I’m twisting a beautiful chunk of the landscape into hundreds of flatbed trucks that couldn’t imagine a more terrible day. We’re all going to be impressed by the following gesture: It’s official. I want you to be awake for this. Just before entering a squat that should block off the main road, I heard a rumor, more or less, that you were standing in my room half undressed, making normal to unbelievable decisions.
Monday The infinite danger is that we grow more limbs the longer we live, that soon, standing outside, is someone who we said the wrong things to and theyâ€™re inconsolable, certainly capable of shooting us to pieces or apologizing for failing to remember our names.
Tuesday I shouldâ€™ve been exposed to those people born of the goat heart, who, in general, call the heavens two shades darker, yet who remembers what again? In a priceless river, below the struggle of the notable struggle to move it along, my muffled darkness, until scripted, is so unevenly nameless. But now now that weâ€™ve seen it, the empty flowerpot, the white slum, what can I say, the white slum, electrically alone with nothing to do but move on, they stay put, and we have to hear about it by the one asked to drive us all home.
Wednesday Deep breathing, by its very design, will go idle, as the poor grapes and the one apple sit there loosing all their curiosity of who advises Quek Wee Chew. It’s not that I believed in ridicule, but after seeing the tape, it was an enormous comfort to test the things that would explode, and then to shout, PKOOOH!, and jump back into the car, innocent as some gaping cavern. It’s as if to forget one felony, I’m forced to give up your shoulders and your neck. It’s intolerable. The sun struck and the reaching out for a full life. The Indian’s horse that stunk compared to the cavalry. I drag myself out to the country and flush and wait, and shake hands and stay down. It’s in our last muscles that we keep going, and know it.
Thursday I’ve begun weighing myself for goodwill in the alleys, for next time. There’ll be objectors, there’s always objectors who are mostly good raunchy, but I can’t keep quiet about their other manners. There are very few people that everyone knows. If we got them all together, and put them in black turtlenecks, the entire room would go arrhythmic, and we’d edge out of our clothes, spilling forth, you name it.
Friday Loan me your gas mask that turns panic into coos. Send me the delivery charge youâ€™ve amassed from your problem that I know nothing about. Ask me to turn the page of my individuality during dinner, and count the seconds before I become drowsy enough to pass out. Accept half of my body as yours and promise weâ€™ll halve the other half, handing it to one person who is furious and one person who is frightened. As a general rule, when I begin speaking, stare often and long at my forehead, throw me off under any circumstance when I look uselessly unable to relate.
Saturday It’s going to be a bumpy road when this life finally comes along looking to collect. See the old dominion we must re-embroider for angels, angels, no more angels, angels, that’s enough. If you have a beak, and it’s open, agape for no reason, your concentration is truly incredible. If you are able to grow old with the one expression that is yours alone—most often the specific look of lifting a ridiculous air conditioner into a window, my fate is yours to turn on and off, and off and on again, without my ever knowing it.
Sunday I am still thinking too much about what the first moonwalk cost us. I have a secondhand horn that’s growing with pleasure from a shallow and weakly motivated flexor. If you named it a folk remedy, I promise there would be houses that would promise to spare, I suppose, houses from reciting, forget it, the beginning again. Okay, but I’m also thinking if you stood just far enough away and began shouting out my secrets, I’m sure your mild accent would convert itself to angry, as someone I’d never embrace.
Monday Hello Doctor, this is the good news, I will be, until my death, in that morning, though it is just a morning, the one man that belongs to the unusual methods of the cleaners and the supporter of an irresponsible science of having to slip away to taste all that I ever plan to say. It’s true, I’ve insulted you for all these years just so you can remember me in one sentence. As a shut-in, your mail is pooling outside my door. The air is disturbed. The ground is disturbed. The urgency of nightfall has lost all control, and now couldn’t possibly recognize that it’s mostly half-bad. I miss your cold, clean hands, and you know this.
Tuesday Maybe I’ve been, in particular, together for too long: peace is coming. East Germany is still playing it safe with its beautiful stamps somewhere, full of life, unheard from ever since. Out of six irresolvable hearts, there are five that believe they’ll return from the Cape Doctor, Fremantle Doctor, Papagayo, or Southerly Buster less qualified to feel. Out of three irresolvable hearts, there are two that will face the glass, growing taupe as the street pigeons suddenly realize they’ve been sleeping on their sides. Out of two irresolvable hearts, there will be one physically unable to stop grinning, stronger than the other, behaving like some complicated fact.
Wednesday I remember to laugh again when forced to look at the unforced motion in maps. Because you were asleep, I finished each of your sentences, something I do when you’re awake, and I’m truly sorry for. I am living inside a car, and this car is pressed to find someplace not that far away, where I’ll eventually get out and say, you look nice, to someone who really needs to hear it. If I saw that you had nothing to eat and I called what was missing, packaged goods, it’s there you could find the specific beginnings of my dishonesty (too strong), my poor hesitation. There are deafened geologists, who each morning wake up, look out at the world, and sign, hooray.
Thursday When I took my eyes off you, it was only to see how you got here. Sample: by and by. Sample: In a green coat, I’d suffer to imagine how its always been the one sun you’ve looked after, and the other, well, that I’m quite curious about. There are atoms that are glorious and have no say. I do the laundry, and what scares me is the sodden grazing of one fabric against the other. I am owned by paper-thin flagrance and sea level observers who make a living by looking intense under a pink light. I am serious. I pretend to be serious. You have to be serious.
Friday You are going, neither of us knows, at some point, and this happens to cut into the furnished sound of our time. Within sight, if you hang the incredible motion of what you burn off every day, the gasses would form hands, and those hands, while grabbing at our throats, would weigh nothing, nothing that we know of, like breathing or the hoar frost that dusts over these days. You can tell which of my leanings will be crushed. They have my voice and where youâ€™ve been. What will you wear to remember the middle of nowhere, a different thing altogether, the time it took to nearly understand?
Saturday Generally speaking, turning off the gas, taking in a great deal of sun, I’m within the margin of error that needs no convincing outside of what an amusing time it all is. You are not a clerk. You open the bag, tinkle in the bag, and with tensile strength, wipe out the mysterious love we had for the potency of walk down any given street, and you’ll certainly find some relief. The curtains close. How lonely, I will ask him, is the half-incriminated country that pours through, coating over a few hundred babies a day, so they’ll never flip, rat us out as we begin to laugh at the beautiful relationship of our late, late thinking.
Sunday How well am I speaking about the aforementioned imploring of the fuck? Not acceptable. And then a bad decision, a very bad decision to go out and find a spider, any spider too eager to get back to work, pulling it aside to lay down the law— no long dead silence—and you better believe if you ever again assume that expression of horror, I’ll be watching… and it kept still enough for me to sit down on the porch and really consider where I’ve been for all these years.
Monday Each time I reheat myself, I say, believe me, just look at what the detached and tireless ocean could do. All swallowed. All momentarily water of burst forth and retained depths. Thereâ€™s nothing like that here. Polyglots make me feel a loneliness unmatched by housepainters, unaided all day, moving their ladders inches across some portico before anyone knows of their day. This is a real caution. Just before you got here, I was forced to jostle the one person awake who knows me better than anyone, saying, feel the drop I get in the shade? She felt it. Actually, she was the one who called you over, as I leaned like a forest gone soft.
Tuesday But wait, there’s a brutishness up north that rounds out, now that I’m thinking about it, a world of unreadiness— a retelling of the half-of-it—forgive me for so much. How can I live through, no, how can I compete with that? Not everyone loves an utter tolerance for the very dark look of the something once there. Oh, taking us home again. Oh, that’s over there, where the durable plants look deep down tired, but really they’re only growing relentlessly closer to here.
Wednesday It’s still cooler at this point—the twilight— the other one—keep your distance— I meant the other one. I wish I could say everything, and you would break free from the rest, and mean more, be there to be more. Especially you. Do you think, here is the place that wants to be this place? As if, that’s a wonderful sky, and it better be. Because if it changed, knowingly changed, tell me, whose sky would we now be talking about?
Thursday Sometimes, between all that I am, I leave, come back, whatever that means, look, Iâ€™m here. Having legs and knowing it, is too much. What could flow into your basement is a mound of love, gross, I know, and once you get over it, nightfall starts there. And then, the eventually, all dark minion, gives back the crocus, one after the other, as if there were more, as if, there were ever more. I know that boots need sun. And tractors, as delicate as they are when they try to move on, are still tractors. Iâ€™m a snitch, on the ground, now give me some cover.
Friday I quit using tennis as my only mnemonic aid for traitor and mercy and blood. Valleys for certain white people? From the storm comes no insides, no insides to obey. I may cease for a moment and enjoy someoneâ€™s poor hatched scam. Oh, thou steeled gall, I am not so violet of a transplant. I am heartburn, and sure, you say, whitely mostly at midday. Now blood, I know you want into this argument. But blood, Iâ€™m emotional enough without you.
Saturday I wonder what you did with that beauty that couldn’t read. I wonder if you ended up putting it back in the carton, returning to the store, complaining to the manager, promising never to leave until she made it right. I wonder if you still believe it was all thumbs, and without fail, could catch fire in the devil’s midday sun. I have someone here. They seem to know everything, and they won’t quit asking how long I’ve been so uncertain.
Sunday I’d like to start with days, no one’s life, who will remember if they’re older or answered, and who always depends as they do. I think, somehow, somehow those here are enough like one day, collecting what we know about one day. I looked nice enough and then I died. No way. Everyone said so, but that’s impossible. My organs are too unexpected. Today, they’re so fat, clearly intimate and at home in the country. I am enough like them—entirely forgetful and aware of what will happen next.
Jordan Stempleman is the author of Their Fields (Moria, 2005), Whatâ€™s the Matter (Otoliths, 2007), Facings (Otoliths, 2007), String Parade (BlazeVOX, 2008) and The Travels (Otoliths, 2008). He lives in Prairie Village, Kansas, teaches at the Kansas City Art Institute, and is the Associate Editor of The Continental Review.