Poetry

5 Poems by Macgregor Card


THE MERMAN’S GIFT

for Karen Weiser

Brother I need back my sticks
I hope you make it forward

Hope you learn to range
by grass depressed by possibility alone

One and every
actionable blade of glamor

in a ranger’s vatic underfauna
If we go there

I’m a total wreck my brother
carried off at totalcy

I need for you to wreck
upon yourself

the salvage you recover
from me

and I love you
I need back the sticks I loaned you

How else will I say I be
the sun’s own paned adjudicant

to the peal of shade rotation
around every quitter’s cone

if you can’t turn
the simple wrecking lamp on me

Remember anyone at all
who doesn’t know you is a quitter

and anything that doesn’t act upon you
is a quitter

almost any people, glass or metal
any mountain you could think to name

has quit beneath a quitter’s vegetation
not to mention

all those quitter leaves so many you would think
they never had a chance

almost any
furniture and window overlooking

every city’s quitter signal—
wish you’d come inside from their neglect

if it were even possible
to sit here with me in the broadest public

lost at sea, a bench in memory of strangers
placed through everybody’s moving rain

(pretend you could endure
a friend’s wide-open shower scene)

as if half-surf wherever
stranded as a cave-mouth weed

there’d be a time
to say my brother is survived by our merbrother

“Take care”
“Take care forever, no!”

Proverb not
you are your friend’s own family

but you are your friend’s own family
robinson

“Meet me in my chambers”
better “Meet me in my brother’s chambers”

Hit me in the folk
I am so high on you

When you weren’t succeeding
anywhere

not even by your standard
have my sticks I said

I hope they bring us closer now
they have to be returned

Just think of it as obligation
without flooring hesitation

(pretend you’re not ashamed
to dance in public)

I just want an understanding
that exceeds

without excluding unremitting favor
or favors accountability

over accessory to
(any single) fraud

I hope you make it forward
I need back the sticks

Ever see a merman put away
its roaming horn in tears

because you gave it all
no signal?

Hope you never do
on my account

I hope you honor all your debts
I’m so in love with you


POEM

Even spirits
have their
average signal
turned on you
simon tuesday
monday luke
goodnight
goodnight
in every way
you can imagine
fist on three
impress
the burning frost
pick up
where all these pistons
in the dove meat
left us
“all left riots”
welcome up
in arms
can’t service
all these
middle-magic doves
just let go
like that
“next volunteer”
thanks all weather
psalm machine
thanks forever


THAT OLD WOOLLY BLOODLETTING

In youth you tend to look rather frequently into a mirror,
not at all necessarily from vanity. You say to yourself,
“What an interesting face; I wonder what he’ll be up to?”
—J. M. Barrie, “Courage”

Here is how pussycat /
I will show you to carry /
your unframed Cortez /
the conqueror portrait /
out of your nursery and into the forest
you’ll kneel in to sleep
the cock of the walk
through falling of dead
unalterable leaves
you cannot yearn to ally
your friends with influence of law
Learn your Greek
You’re a hero to open your book to learn
Jupiter failed as a nation
Though made by the giants

Australian is English!
I’d fold the universe
shut with tears
choking my prize
four crosses of shirts and trousers
in my fist
and a poor fellow’s sword on my floor
Come from somewhere for a purpose
Go to somewhere for none
The angry burst into the room
The mad burst into the wall
as a victory poem
let it not be said
in the song that is so true
no ship moves up the one star night
without a plan to execute
in perpetuity, no no no no no no no
No, my boy, no no no no no no no no no no no
No no no, my boy, no no no no no no no no no no no
The ship is a natural ship
as the wand is a natural wand
as the Englishman is hearing the frogs
uplifted as the queerest antique stag

Don’t play with banker’s straw, my boy
but talk the penny down
from its smoldering cloud
into your cup
you are that human shape
of public statuary
not to be
that town crier
in a meat locker
(armies travel on their stomachs)
Everyone’s beloved
is a finite distance from your bed

Carry your portrait
close to the vest
leave your liqueur
set down by the fire
pick up the receiver
remember your Greek
and strum your important guitar.

You are doing what I tell you to do.
What more do you want us to do.
We will eat and then we will guard.
I want you to obey me willfully.
I do this to make us work.
The giants made me for this purpose.
We will guard and then we will sleep.
That is the action.
There’ll be enough trouble.
I’m a hero to open your book.
We will work on the same shift.

TO FRIEND-TREE OF COUNTED DAYS

A hurricane is stripping the woods
A key will be my dwelling
The feint of a fire the heart confirms
And the air whose capture seized it
—René Char, “Effacement du peuplier”

I am climbing a tree
too high for words
whose leaves are as green
as they ought to be
the only shade at night
that meets me is my own
Johnny Élan forever
I hate to confess
sometimes I feel
volunteered upon
by a formal quality of sky
cowed trust
in movement and volition
put to love
propensity itself to feel
a little black mandate
yes, for consent
and resignation

white cloud
black cloud
white goose
deaf goose

I wish I was not
on a burning tree
but a tree that was
really on fire
though the emphasis
is my own
it is anyone’s place
to be here, the view
I can only imagine
is probably astounding
if seen in generous light
though consolation
is that debt of love knows
infinite regress
I thought was said
that debt of love
knows infinite egress
and so the pines
are bright
because they are all
around me

white cloud
black wood
white cliff
black wreath

Johnny Élan was here
his knife as fast
as it ought to be
the tree he seized
grew high
the tree I sing
you know that way
it is the shade
that meets you
is your own
like any other feeling
spent apart
from green hard home
below red star
to shrill formality
one thing
I do not lack the sense in
to expire

How long is the comedy
about me?

How far to the barrier
I know?

What is there to sing
but a round?

What is there to seize
but a while?

What is there to counter
but fall?

EMPHASIS MINE

Along came a colossus, along came a colossus—
but if I can’t, but if I can’t, but if I can’t, but if I can’t
—Lorenzo Da Ponte, Don Giovanni

All this blank tape here
All of it mournful
Any can blow
the long copper horn
in love with oneself
and so only blow
as anyone—
not one relation
to qualify
everything
that am called proud
a pure grammatical joke
to salt the handshake
and convert
free salutation into policy

Put to mouth my true true
ball and sing—

I got my own / Lorenzo!
mouth noises / Lorenzo!

I sing I got my own
tenderness—

Punitive early riser’s / capital first step
and experience of time
as incrementalized doubt
Lorenzo! / CHORUS Lorenzo!

Put to mouth my due restraint
Traitor in my applause crypt!

Bronze me twice / shame on me
Traitor in / SOLO applause crypt!

If you put out the hand
a little mince
Then put out your eye
a little stick
If you put out the hand
a little mince
Then put out your eye
a little salt, but if I can’t—
a little mince, but if I can’t—
a little stick

Macgregor Card is a poet, translator and bibliographer living in Queens. His first full poetry collection, Duties of an English Foreign Secretary, will be out in November 2009 from Fence Books (selected for the Fence Modern Poets Series by Martin Corless-Smith). Recent work has appeared in The Brooklyn Rail, Ink Node, Aufgabe, Lungfull!, Fence, Baltimore Is Reads, The Recluse, Puppyflowers, Whitman Hom(m)age and Best American Poetry 2007. With Andrew Maxwell he was co-editor of The Germ: a journal of poetic research (archives here). He is currently editing an anthology of New York School poetries with Olivier Brossard.

5 Poems by Claire Becker

By My Tongue

I live a day.
I don’t say anything.

I depend on,
don’t know how

to depend on.
I want to know I can

not have to.
I want to say everything

as if
I’m getting paid for this

consciousness,
stranger on the road.

But I like to do it anyway.
But I like to do it anyway.

I live a minute,
in that way

all others
unfolded inside.

The Werld

Enjoy your coffee,
white guy, I say after we smile.

I see all the babies
in stomachs and strollers,

the toddlers on scooters,
in helmets. You’re negative.

I forget to leave
the couch this morning.

I find my empty,
ugly notebooks,

get all the ugliness
out and give it as gifts

to other people.
You’re ugliness in my life

but the lack of you.
Wandering about

the unknown’s kind of beautiful,
kind of laughable

unless it’s you wondering
then it’s scary.

The man yells
in the dog park,

How do I get out of here?
Yells, Go fuck yourself.

Turning around,
furthering the sound of the echoing.

Twenty Eight

I’m out of touch.
I walk and touch
the soft shirts, felt hats.

You brush your hand
across my back
and leave a piece of it.

Contact
that makes nothing happen.
Black and orange for the game.

I want to be you
with a hand so natural.
Put my hand

provisionally on your back.
Just try, just put it
down, then we’ll fix it.

You get out to head
to the game. I look out
into a car.

Black swirl of hair.
I don’t know
eyes are there

but stare.
When I leave work,
I should go home,

take care. That’s where
people are.

As One Semi-Afloat

I whine inside as you
whine at my shower.

I’ll leave the house
with a white hair on my sock,

so it catches up.
Months change to months.

I’ll take your little hands in mine
and rate my summer,

sir. I’m less like her.
I’ll hold you good.

Come over and stare with me
to make some decisions.

I’ll turn you
while the clock snakes,

tuck your head
under your paw.

Pity’s the way
into relationships and motherhood.

I’ll walk down the leafy street
for a drink

and sit. Leaves,
wide street

with paint stores on it. I stake
myself

on the perfect triangle
of streets,

traffic lights keeping the traffic slow.
If you don’t know, you don’t

deserve to know
how, how

I’m doing the same thing, haven’t
let go yet.

I’ll put my head
over it and bag my head.

Flaneur, Voyeur

I’m exclaiming,
I love to ride a bike.

He’s exclaiming it below
on the street, through the cement blockade

between the trees.
High in the flat part,

I’m opening windows
with my whole body,

then hanging curtains
to break the sun.

Each morning, the dog swears.
Each good memory,

you tell until it spills in the air.
On the sidewalk,

he lifts our trays
from old ironing boards.

Why do we walk down the street?
The street’s for trash going down

gutters. Why do I change and love
garbage and gutters?

Claire Becker lives in Oakland and teaches in the high school mainstream program at the California School for the Blind. She co-edits the email/web journal RealPoetik with Lily Brown. Her e-chap Get You is available through Duration Press, and her first book, Where We Think It Should Go, is forthcoming from Octopus Books.