by C. Derick Varn
My second Siamese curls
around the my ankle. This
boy is exhausted, so sing in
me O Muse. Each story comments
on another story. My brother
hates poetry, and likes stories
I wrote about ghost sharks
trawling the islands of Polynesia
for lost anthropologists.
The conventions expressed:
Ground speed of happiness:
sailing beyond Anatolia,
what kind wooden horses
do you want? Who is I, me,
you? We can’t speak clearly
in unison or alone. Why
me, why this now, why
this way? The overtones
wash it all out into poor
translations. My brother,
born dead. Born undone.
My daughter never sacrificed—
muses come and go talking
of chiaroscuro, I feel emotions
swim up through the molasses.
Homer wrote the Iliad or
He didn’t or they did, or when
Kissing a girl who brings
Crisps after lunch in a too
low sweater so that you
can’t tell crumbs from
gooseflesh from your touch.
Soon it will be Christmas.
I will burn the muse for
Festival. I am not exhausted
the conventions sealed,
the hormones moaned, Achilles
rotted from the heal up.
I slush for you. You who
ignores the cat near my feet.
A sprinter’s life, but I am hobbled,
limping towards everywhere
in economy seats and under-polished
shoes, matted with desert sand
and my brow beading with salty
exhaustion. My old love, whom I
never married, drunk in the porch
of the turn of the century rental
with wood flooring warped in
Southern heat and humidity,
we talk ex-lovers and confess
of a100-year-old school. I am
heading to Wyoming soon, then
to Paris,then to Cairo. Jet-setting
seems more interesting to those
who don’t do it: polystyrene food,
timelessness in the air, sleeping
bent against the curvature of
the earth. We don’t touch,we
talk about Batman. The shutters
of her apartment seem to splinter,
and I will leave again. I cough.
It reminds me of sputtering blood.
Thursday night, the muezzin
Comes across the speakers, mixes
With desi beats and neon. A woman
In a pink hijab leaves browning
water for three kittens, near a fly
swarm around the sweet bakery.
two boys kick at the orange kitten
as it mews. Two days into a dust
storm, desert coming to visit,
The Nile seems to turn the air
Into mud.I’m tired. I can’t pinpoint
the exhaustion, and buy milk blended
date pulp. Later I will vomit, and I will
think of hands holding mine, calloused
against some window. Some one told me:
Reality is what you can get away with,
But others, others, others. You can
Hear so many other places calling,
Burning within and seen from without.
For the sake of silence, I with tremble
With comfort at the dawn prayers
And wonder what I keep leaving.