Everyone in WalMart smiles
Because everyone is stupid
Because the prices are stupendous
"I’d be stupid not to buy this"
We say in line at the checkout
Before the sphinx in the blue vest
Takes our cash and poses the riddle:
“Have a nice day.”
The instructions on the box said 375º Fahrenheit
neglecting to mention the cardboard under the pizza.
My mind was elsewhere. The electric bills
needed to be opened. I lick the tip of my pencil
and carry the zero to keep the kilowatt hours.
The window rattles in its frame which swelled
during the rain. And we had some rain, let me tell you.
[This seems like the beginning of something longer, but I like the short form of it. The ending is nicely ironic against the title.]
A rough sketch to prove I haven’t totally wasted my time so far.
I left the art history girls behind me
And the single moms of Edmonton miss me
I’m pulling magic from the Pacific Ocean
I think of you when I put on sun screen
You know who you are
I feel better about my weight when I’m
in America. The averages are higher.
The freeways pulse and digest cars,
I guide myself by memorizing the order
of the foreign street names. La Cienega
Cahuenga. San Vicente. I’ll Fairfax
my way down the road and farmers
market all afternoon. No one knows who
I am but we all pretend together at least
one of us is famous.
Four dollars a gallon for gasoline, tempers
are high too. You’ll be honked at for
hesitating and screech if you start too fast.
Straight lines are rare. Even the sidewalks pitch
pushed up by old roots
trees old and in control of their domain. DWP
bears its Art Deco letterings with promise
It’s an hour by air to Bay Area where love lives
or maybe it lives here too, where fog
settles into canyons shielding stars
from streetlamps and klieg lights. Premieres
are miles away and mean nothing to me.
I’ve never met a celebrity but I know where
they shop. I’d rather point myself at the ocean
where the magic happens and happens.
This is one of my favourite poems. It always makes me think of the women I know who are raising kids, a lot of them just on their own. Being alert to other people’s needs and being anxious all the time are experiences I can relate to but I’ve never had the responsibilities that are attendant to those acute conditions. In any case, CD Wright really nails something with this.
Hair appears on my chest in dreams.
The paperboy comes to collect
with a pit bull. Call Grandmother
and she says, Well you know
death is death and none other.
In the mornings we’re in the dark;
even at the end of June
the zucchini keep on the sill.
Ring Grandmother for advice
and she says, O you know
I used to grow so many things.
Then there’s the frequent bleeding,
the tender nipples, and the rot
under the floormat. If I’m not seeing
a cold-eyed doctor it is
another gouging mechanic.
Grandmother says, Thanks to the blue rugs
and Eileen Briscoe’s elms
the house keeps cool.
Well. Then. You say Grandmother
let me just ask you this:
How does a body rise up again and rinse
her mouth from the tap. And how
does a body put in a plum tree
or lie again on top of another body
or string a trellis. Or go on drying
the flatware. Fix rainbow trout. Grout the tile.
Buy a bag of onions. Beat an egg stiff. Yes,
how does the cat continue
to lick itself from toenail to tailhole.
And how does a body break
bread with the word when the word
has broken. Again. And. Again.
With the wine. And the loaf.
And the excellent glass
of the body. And she says,
Even. If. The. Sky. Is. Falling.
My. Peace. Rose. Is. In. Bloom.
poems replace what they represent
the poem becomes the object
the thing the abstract
it’s slippery but we hold it
a slippery bit of magic
take a swing and the clock
take a swing and the clock
empty shopping carts line the alleys
empty shopping carts line the alleyways
some clouds come tumbling over
tumbling over the mountains
some clouds come tumbling over
it’s the bricks the bricks the bricks
the bricks make the buildings the buildings
the buildings make the canyon walls
of the streets the sidewalks
it could be the mouth of a cave
the mouth of the new day rising
to kiss you on the lips the day
rising to kiss you on the cave
send time to you in shoeboxes old shoeboxes
sending time to you to hold and use
sending you my time to use
Maybe you'll fall in love with an Internet t-shirt site
t-shirt model and the model will fall in love with
the books you’re holding close to your chest and
the books will fall in love with the lamp and its light
no trains give breath to trees the trains run underground
the trees reach branches reaching branches breathing
trees cutting themselves down cutting down the trees themselves
the trains running raining underground trains branching tracking
I imagine this is a skeletal thing I'll try and flesh out.
The structure is clunky, but they always are with me.
Come to Edmonton,
These days we’re preparing for the cold.
Burlap goes around the trees,
air conditioners get their nylon sleeves,
grey paint gets applied to graffiti,
the leaves pile up in bags in the alleys.
A train will take you through a farmer's field,
past a morgue where the Christmas lights are lit
by the extension cords of recent suicides.
The train crosses over a river, but if you look up
instead of down you'll see the old ironwork bridge,
a dominant feature of the airstream of the valley.
You haven't paid the trip and you watch for the fake cops
with their metal clipboards. The ticket means nothing,
Wait until their backs are turned and ride again.
“Who do you think you are?”
You will never be one the cover of Avenue Magazine,
Or curate Refinery, or sit beside Daryl Katz at a game.
A man holds a hard hat, an American Apparel bag at his side.
The sandwich he eats comes from one of the American chains
that populate our suburban malls and hospitals.
He may have a degree in art history, but he’s building a pedway.
No stars in the Amazon basin, there’s mercury in my fillings. Wild canoes catch my eyes and I sing sweet cinnamon.
Our names written in neon. A new ‘Atlantic Monthly’ in the mailbox. Hey Walter Cronkite, water your orchids tonite.
We’ll spend the night swapping shirts. A quartermoon hovers over the pumpkin field. These mirrors give us beauty.
Time discloses its secrets evenly. There are no shoes adequate for dancing against tomorrow. Heat rises to escape.
Shivers and nightshade; wolfsbane blooms under the porch. Shovels on our shoulders, we walk in silence until dawn.
We’re loose silverware, airplane propellers, birds lost in foggy air. A compass, a red dress; night is calling me.
Your eyes are TV screen blue. A reckless carp lives in my pond and I read it Jean-Paul Sartre under dead stars.
No taxis left in Buenos Aires. I walk, birdcage in one hand, lantern in the other. The wolfsbane smells delicious.