Five Poems

by Colin Dodds

The Wishy Regime

The wishy fellow locked in the bar—
that’s me
Couldn’t tell the angels from the inmates

Hate as strong as a haircut
and haircuts named after car crashes:
The pileup, the hit-and-run, the rear-ender, the sideswipe
Stray talk, like shit in my ears

Personality, personality
Drink, drink
A burden and an entertainment

There is no feeling here, but we demand sex
They fell we fell further still—
victims of the Peter Principle on the Pyramid of Needs

At its base,
the bottles all point to heaven
Maybe we do get what we want,
but what then?

Chez Jay

The nervous knee of the drunk next to me
makes it seem the great quake is upon us

A damaged man babbles to the tourists at the end of the bar
Australians filter in and out of the seats beside me,
incredible strangers in the airport land,
the valley of immortal cars, Santa Monica

I’m on vacation from trying to be special,
on vacation from vacation
No one asks me to explain myself,
but I spend all night trying nonetheless

Even in California, George Patton
and the tragic municipalities of Massachusetts
pursue me

Magic Still Rules Our Lives

In a private moment,
the framed picture in a quiet bar holds a famous face
and that calms you a little

The movie stars enable and ennoble
our drinks, our meals, our renting of rooms
help us believe that we,
the hamburger cattle of history’s most fantastic bottleneck,
could matter

The lights in the theater go down so we can see the stars,
the millionaires and billionaires, the white hot balls of attention
always on the verge of expansion or collapse,
thrashing through the wish-granting dream-life
of a sacrificial king

By the afternoon, the bloodthirsty gods
change their names and relocate into the traffic

Out on Venice Beach, the poison priesthood
sleeps curled or contorted on the grass and dream
of a still deadlier drug, one made of words,
For that, they pay, lingering by the eddies in traffic,
conspiring to get through the next five minutes,
dying for a better story to be sacrificed for

Up the road, the gym parking lots are full,
the machines occupied by bodies eager for purification
Farther still, office towers rise from the pressure
of decent, intelligent men and women desperate for initiation

By evening, the waiter with the perfect jaw
and the dancer with still-bright eyes,
arrive from their respective nowheres
for a shot at their own assumption
into the glowing cloud of trivia

The internet and a Cardinals’ College of economists
will not change the fact
that magic still rules our lives

A Renaissance Bronze at the Getty

Ill-used by illusion, by long weeks
as the creature in my press releases,
or the pornographic sports car my toiletries say I am,

a renaissance bronze, pensive and noble, active and fragile,
interrupts me with the urgency of an injury
and demands a tenderness I’d withdrawn

The frozen flexion of a thigh,
the way an index finger presses
into a puzzled cheek

Stops me, and invites the honest whisper
in my hair-trigger heart, which says
there is a free will inside my free will

The bronze figure wordlessly
urges me to permit
a full existence to my fellow man

And, with all the new people
that all the cheap food and cheap oil have allowed
what a test that has become!

No wonder the oil baron
chose a museum as the penance
for his massive existence

Into the Lightning

Venus haunts the summer before I marry
A bright, untwinkling speck in the empty city sky
Afternoons of library books and liquor
bleed into nights of drunkenness and dreams

The day is calm and clear
The bridge has a baseball player’s name
The sandbar holds its ground
The wind is not only at our faces
We just never notice when it’s at our backs

Despite the jetties, the beach has rearranged
into new crescent inlets and bulging prosceniums
from which we act out the dreams of the ocean

The ocean cannot understand and so must forgive
the naked men standing idly on the beach at sunset,
awaiting a rendezvous, or just wagging their dicks at the horizon

Night empties the beach
My sandy fingers dig through fishguts for more bait,
for an excuse to stay on the beach another hour

With Coney Island fireworks at my back,
clouds flashing over Nassau County to my left
and a gibbous moon before me,
I charge into the glimmering sky and rushing surf
and cast my line into the lightning


Colin Dodds grew up in Massachusetts and completed his education in New York City. His poetry has appeared in more than a hundred fifty publications, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. The poet and songwriter David Berman (Silver Jews, Actual Air) said of Dodds’ work: “These are very good poems. For moments I could even feel the old feelings when I read them.” Dodds is also the author of several novels, including WINDFALL and The Last Bad Job, which the late Norman Mailer touted as showing “something that very few writers have; a species of inner talent that owes very little to other people.” And his screenplay, Refreshment, was named a semi-finalist in the 2010 American Zoetrope Contest. Colin lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife Samantha. You can find more of his work at

One thought on “Five Poems

  1. Pingback: Poems You Can Read Right Now | Colin Dodds

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