Stars of the night commute
Stars of the night commute ANA Božičević
Ana Božičević, Stars of the Night Commute © 2009 Ana Božičević Cover: Remedios Varo (Spain 1908 - Mexico 1963) Ícono, 1945 [Icon] Óleo, incrustaciones de nácar y hojas de oro sobre tríptico de madera [Oil, mother-of-pearl and gold leaf inlays on a wooden tryptich] 60 x 39,3 x 5,5 Malba - Fundación Costantini, Buenos Aires Reproduced with kind permission of Anna Alexandra Gruen. First edition, November 2009 ISBN: 9780982541609 Printed and bound in the USA Library of Congress Control Number: 2009935001 Book and cover design by Christian Peet. Text and titles are in Garamond. Tarpaulin Sky Press PO Box 189 Grafton, Vermont 05146 www.tarpaulinsky.com For more information on Tarpaulin Sky Press perfect-bound and hand-bound editions, as well as information regarding distribution, personal orders, and catalogue requests, please visit our website at www.tarpaulinsky.com. Reproduction of selections from this book, for non-commercial personal or educational purposes, is permitted and encouraged, provided the Author and Publisher are acknowledged in the reproduction. Reproduction for sale, rent, or other use involving financial transaction is prohibited except by permission of the Author and Publisher.
Table of Contents THE STARS ON THE 7:18 TO PENN Some Occurrences on the 7:18 to Penn The Stars That Come Before the Night
GOD God Is President, She’s the Rose of the World Emoticon The Swiffle Pants Cittadino in Campagna di New Jersey
23 25 28 29
SEBASTIAN Home Subway Date Sex Spoken by a Piece of Gum on the Open-Air Platform
33 34 35 36 37
AMY A Summer’s Breeze Swan A Kind of Headless Guilt Emerges In Which I Am the Silence of Them. Dear A, Ode to Cotton
41 43 45 46 48
DOG AND ME Epileptic at the Crosswalk The Sleep of the Tuba-Player Leaving Husband at the Door of St. Ann and the Holy Trinity in Brooklyn Heights
51 52 53
Voicemail Anthem Riddle in Secaucus Sunset Riddle For My Dead Dog
54 55 56 57
THE LONG COMMUTE
Document Rhode Island The Messenger Light is the first animal of the visible. Legal Counsel Then I write a letter in your handwriting. Locket-portrait at the Tavern Air-raid on Washington Square Document The Return
61 62 63 64 65 66 67 69 70
Acknowledgements About the Author
The Stars on the 7:18 to Penn
Try and make it to Cold Mountain. â€”Han-Shan
The Stars That Come Before the Night i. Out of the body of the dead dachshund A mountain of luxury. Asleep in its branches was luxury, badgers born blind into luxury – their crying was luxury, above all luxuries. But Love was usury. It counted the pennies of the person, chanted Dog in the yard where now there was no dog. It waited, then jumped and wrenched: What did you do with the pennies of his person?! — Violent stillness. I looked and saw Love had ossified, a root, straight into the ground. I could hear a brook gurgling. Badgers burrowing. This was no place for politics. Clouds skated overhead. Then mountain crooned out: –There’s a root growin next to my root, so close. There’s a root fixin to strangle my root, But worm and water, it feels like embracin And I need me some embracin, And tho you smell like sadness, and that’s same as money, I’ll take it from you now, wipe from it the finance And leave only luxury. The Dog, he knew such luxury. He knew grass and sun were luxury. He died of luxury, in the lap of luxury
ii. Ever let something go then watch it from afar? Now youâ€™re not so sure â€“ applause stales. Did you really push it away with these two hands? They latch the window, pull to a chair.... So sorry, dear star that came before the night
iii. Sunset was applause. We lived in the nail castle, summered at laundry palace. Round glittered dear carpetworld – at sweet hollow diner by waterfront chiropractors you were adventureland, an edible arrangement. Now I work at men’s warehouse, sleep in home depot. I bump into you at melting pot or pizza hut. And it’s almost nothing, the thing more than one dollar – an indoor lumberyard. Sunset’s just a flavor.
iv. I want a world like that, and I want it round, & to snap the little flowers all the way down— Why not just wake up? It’s Broadway, it has no body You had to be there. Adventuress swims inside her wife’s good body. Two clouds on the mountain.
v. The trees just got more treeyey, voices under the bed purred out – she made contact. Now she would do everything opposite (and even “Take Me to the Riot” sounds like shit!) – no more Dead dachshund and I’d like to join him, or My girlfriend thinks I’m fat – she’ll dip under, not with important-sounding speech but the importance of speech, then… then…fuck. She asks the test question. Nothing. A false positive, I guess.
vi. If the sign on the door signals to the passer-by that the store is OPEN, does the other side of the sign tell those inside the store that the world is CLOSED? Close up shop, put world back in business. This poem is called The Mystery of Commerce.
vii. Sadness plus finance equals luxury. Commerce plus treetops is travel. What then of the mountain? Once upon a time, in a far off land, there lived kindly king Louis Vuitton the Third. For a summer job he worked at the Dairy Barn on Broadway, and there, quite by accident, he fell in love. Twice a day the dachshund would drive by inside an object, and ask for a pretzel. The feeling he would get puzzled king Vuitton: it poked, like a stone in the shoe. Finally he asked him out and closed shop. It was night. He put his heart in nightcare and walked to the diner. They both showed up for the date dressed like wives. It was something to laugh about. They laughed for many months, then…fuck. Something was off. King looked and saw dachshund had ossified, and when he walked around the still body, it was just a front, with a stick from behind. Where was Dog? King tore his stole in sadness and started walking. Those who met him laughed at him: all he would say was, try to make it where I’m going. After some time the mountain began to loom. It loomed first through his dreams: just a mountaintop here and there, spinning. Then leaves would scatter on the road. The clouds raced together to form a pretzel. It pointed to something dirty. The joke was some thing to laugh about – almost nothing, but he knew he made contact – like two flavors perfect together, the indoor palace everyone talked about Each little thing a luxury good Or the star he had read of, that shines in the sunset: A root. His status as leaf
Acknowledgements Poems in this book have appeared in chapbooks Morning News (Kitchen Press, 2006), Document (Octopus Books, 2007), God, Sebastian, Amy (Flying Guillotine Press, 2008), and The Stars on the 7:18 to Penn (Dusie Press, 2008). Thank you to the editors of these presses, stellar poets Justin Marks, Zachary Schomburg & Mathias Svalina, Sommer Browning & Tony Mancus, and Kathrin Schaeppi & the dusie kollektiv, for bringing my chapbooks to life. Thank you to the editors of journals where the following poems, or their versions, first appeared: absent (Emoticon); Boog City (A Kind of Headless Guilt Emerges); Denver Quarterly (Epileptic at the Crosswalk, The Sleep of the Tuba-Player); Dusie (Sebastian); Forklift, Ohio (A Summerâ€™s Breeze, Swan); Fou (Some Occurrences on the 7:18 to Penn vii-viii); Hotel Amerika (Leaving Husband at the Door of St. Ann and the Holy Trinity in Brooklyn Heights, In Which I Am the Silence of Them. Dear A,); In Posse (Cittadino in Campagna di New Jersey); MiPoesias (Voicemail Anthem); Octopus Magazine (Document i-iv & vii); Sixth Finch (For My Dead Dog, The Stars That Come Before the Night vi); SOFTBLOW (The Swiffle Pants, Riddle in Secaucus, Sunset Riddle); TYPO (Some Occurrences on the 7:18 to Penn i-vi); and Wheelhouse (Intervals of Please, The Stars That Come Before the Night i-v & vii, God Is President, Sheâ€™s the Rose of the World).
Thank you also to the editors of the anthologies The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel – Second Floor (2008) and The Portable Boog Reader 2: An Anthology of NYC Poetry (2008) which featured several poems in this book. Ardent thanks to the family, friends (Faces, Birds Inc., Alex Dickow, and many others) and teachers (Jan Heller Levi, Donna Masini, Tom Sleigh) who were these poems’ readers, reviewers, translators and editors over the years. Without you no poems. Warmest thanks to Franz Wright for his friendship and support. Above all: thank you, Amy King. This book is for you.
Textual notes: The title “The Stars That Come Before the Night” is via Lytton Smith’s “The Anvil That Comes Before Your Civilisation” via Carey McHugh’s “The Lynx That Comes Just Before Our Grief.” Some images in this sequence were stolen from Sampson Starkweather’s dreams. In “Document,” the title “Light is the first animal of the visible.” is after José Lezama Lima in Material Memoria, 1979: “La luz es el primer animal visible de lo invisible.” Line 11 is after Malachi Black, April 2006: “The swallows have lyrics scratching at their throats.” Lines 7-8 of “Legal Counsel” are after Sylvia Plath’s “Fever 103°.” In lines 2-3 of “Locket-portrait at the Tavern”, “Like the emptiness of his pockets” is from Julio Cortázar’s Las Babas del Diablo aka BlowUp, 1959.
About the Author Ana Božičević was born in Zagreb, Croatia in 1977. She emigrated to NYC in 1997. Stars of the Night Commute is her first book of poems. Her fifth chapbook, Depth Hoar, will be published by Cinematheque Press in 2010. With Amy King, Ana co-curates The Stain of Poetry reading series in Brooklyn, and is co-editing an anthology, The Urban Poetic, forthcoming from Factory School. She works at the Center for the Humanities of The Graduate Center, CUNY. For more, visit nightcommute.org.
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