Three Poems

by C. Derick Varn

The Floodgates of the Pronoun*

—For A.K.

Break in with the I
and cut to the you
with all its invariable
slippage, new
like monsoon
mud smears on
pants legs.
There is you—
the you that
poem chats
with idly.
You breaking
new fragments.
Again, the I.
The utterance:
the car alarm
in the distance.
The image that
lingers too long
off the establishing
shot. Generic
like a paper cup.
Functionless like
a simile. You,
sound, You,
affectation,
You, body
without smell,
without the
heady perfume
of stale cigarettes
or the overstay
of cardamom
on the skin.
All too vast,
All too full
of fondness,
All. The I.
I breaks into
new vases,
shards collecting
in a heap
near the tracks
where the I
lived once,
where the I
diagramed
sentences
from German,
where the I
dreamed in
Esperanto.
Where the
I mourned
the hurried
rain and
tangled hair,
pragmatic
enough to be
sad and thaw
the raw meat
of the heart
just enough
to brown the
edges. There
all is sun,
bright light
where the you
sleep. Negation
of negation.
Lost of referent.
The I breaks,
rebuilds, installs
storm windows,
cracks next storm,
rebuilds again.
Learns to speak
the foreign tongue
of air. The I
breaks better.
Breaks with
beauty, grateful
for a chance
amongst the pot
shards. To be
re-kilned, kindled
and cooled
in night air.
To take the blank
invitation. To
start again.

Cuffs**

You, lover, once laughed
as I struggled against
the ropes, but ties
that bind, hollow
out with hemp burns
that kiss the small
of the thigh, leaves
no word, no thoughts,
the spent waste that
renders me rags.

Every sound
relevant, strangely
to the syntax
of yearning.  True,
the weight makes
me breathe easier,
the heft removes
the heft of empty
skies.  If my love

have lifted me
with her skinny
fist with that rope
to the center of sky,
I would fly-mercurial
and bound, open
like the hinge to
heart and swoop
out the viscera
into the bliss
of immaculate

emptiness.
Opening my eyes,
our love turned
the stars into
shards of our
bones, cleaned
by the friction
and the entwining
little mouths
that whisper,
our tongues

clearly preparatory,
and the algae retracts,
rodents leave the
safety of pines
outside of our bed.
The ocean itself
barely breathing
as rain falls on
someones shoulders,
we thought
our breathe white
against cold of
other women.

Making Love to the Sounds of a Televised War

“A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him, saying, ‘You are mad; you are not like us.’”
–St. Anthony The Great

Feels like loss,
like losing
blood mixed
with storm water.
My body contorts
like a tightened
rope, her
pubis rubs

my chest
as my throat freezes
like a tundra choked
in heath, dressed
in permafrost, or
like the desert

of Saint Anthony
under caresses of
the Sun whose
touch aged
his face like
smoked camel

hide. In my chest,
I feel Anthony’s
door being opened,
inviting the demons
that would pick

at his tanned
flesh, arranging
each assault
with the arsenal
available
in such heat.

Anthony lay,
half-encrusted
in the sand, spent.

In the mumble
of a dead anchorite:
A missile
hits a Baghdad
hotel. The apocalypse,
afterglow, revealing,
reveling, the hum
of a helicopter lost.

 

 C. Derick Varn has served as managing editor for the now defunct Milkwood Review, art editor for Unlikely Stories 2.o, managing editor for the North Star, and  was editorials staffer for Arts and Letters: A Journal fo Contemporary Culture.  He won the Frankeye Davis Mayes/Academy of American Poets Prize in 2003 and have recently published poems in Pirene’s Fountain, Backwards City Review, Cartier Street Review, Deuce Coupe, Rusty Truck, JMWW Magazine, Writing Disorder and Unlikely Stories 2.0.  He is the co-founder and co-editor of Former People. He moves around the global like a nomad: his last locale was South Korea and his current is northern Mexico.
*originally published in Writing Disorder 2011 Released with the author’s permission.
**originally published in Deuce Coup Released with the author’s permission.
***originally published in Toronto Quarterly. 2 (2009): 84-85. Released with the author’s permission.
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