Today's poem is by Alex Lemon
These blistery days cloak so amazingly
Around us, don't they? This earth
That wobbles & spins, crowded
With never-ending waves of new
Mouths mewling & electromagnetic
Radiation. Here, where everyone gets
A trophy to pile atop the rest of our
We can't ever-ever get enough, where
It's always somewhere happy hour
& somewhere else a manatee stares
Into the sunshine with its dead eyes
As it floats its bloated way toward
Nevermore & everywhere in between,
Deep in the noshine, we have so much
Bloviating to doso much to moo
About nothing at allSo, he was
Like reciting lines about the bottom
Of his heart & she was like whatever,
The bridge's crumbling pylons & then
This is where everyone gets up & starts
Dancing & sings the monkey mind is
Miraculous! Donkey powder & lasers
Have given us sight & scorched off
Our stretch marks! Come on! Let's play
Blackjack or better yet, make a bunch
Of babies no one knows how to raise!
But now the lights are getting dim.
The curtain swooshes shut. There's
A cough. Everyone blinks, picks barnacles
From their eyes. Titter, yawn, titter in the waiting
Dark & then the spotlight booms & a mic
Falls all the way from heaven & bounces
& flangs off the floor. For real, nothing says
Into the mic & that's funny, it sounds like
It's coming from the bright blank circle of light
Where an MC should be. Listen up now, you
Crumbsnatchers. The voice is coal hewn & deep.
Before you return to the dirt & become the gift
Of dirtthat timbre, it's got to be Robert Goulet
Or Nina Simone or who the fuck knows, Moses
Maybe?Each still face must be kissed &kissed
&kissedNo, that's not it either. Because of the twang,
You think it's got to be Jimmy Dean still preaching
The gospel of link, patty, heart attack, but oh no,
Not this again, you can feel it now. The voice bucks
Against your ribs. There's a darkness inside you
Singing, hammocked in a tangle of red jellies. It jangles
The viscera something sweet, a burning tire smell
We're all a bit rashy, inner thighs splotched with ringworm
& a skin funk that can't stop won't stop & won't heal.
It floods back into you, that voice, the good old bandit
Inside you with its unstoppable timbreDead zones
In the oceans. Alligators biding their time
In golf course water hazardsWhen you were little
It chewed up Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep & spit
Back a love everwhiplashing that made you want
To wear the skin of everyone around you. See No,
Hear No, Speak No, you thought through
Your teenage years, but you could never finish
That & instead took naps in the sunshine with a
Gorilla mask on. Sooner or later, we're all going
To take those blazing dirt napsmonstrous & beautiful
&perfect &failingHow did you ever fool yourself that
It had been goneAll of us watching our skin as it pulls off
& floats away. How bright it becomes after the last thing we see
he nostalgia twists your insides & you yearnAll of us
Getting better & more lovely but because it has to be,
Still just as ready to slip a screwdriver into a stranger's gut
The lights flicker. Let it end, you plead. Let it out
Of meChests opened for hammers to be thrown
At our nail-shaped hearts. Our infinite puffs of dust.
The lights go out. But did you see what time it is?
Each &everyone of us is Grand Puba Chop Chop
Or Bro Bro Hackles. After a slip & shish inside you
It flattens out & becomes almost pleasant, a shower
Of foamed honey. It becomes so hard to sliver open.
Your eyes open & see absolutely no one around you.
Frayed scraps left on the swan-white bones becoming
More & more beautiful, the best kind of dirt. When
You look down a sheen of black glass has taken
The place of your legs & you're sinking slowly
Into itLet the world without us dip their snouts
Into our opened bodies &slurp & tug & taste how
Bland & unsurprisingly chicken flavored we all
Were. It's a flushed bath, this sinking. You're going.
A hot gasp & going-all-the-way red works over
The body. It is being dipped in a furnace of melted glass,
This downward letting go where somehow the self sings
Hallelujah! &How the fuck did we let this crazy mess
Happen? & Good Riddance then one final Hallelujah!
Right before a lowlight reel of hands opening
Click-clicks before your eyes, dropping, in slow
Motion, thing after thing into what used to be
Your lap: Pomegranate seeds, a harmonica, a yank
Of felt, a feather, handfuls of pencil shavings
& then nothing at all. The hands opening over
& over again but nothing comes. Starbursts all around
You in the heavy metal dark. It's womblike now.
Or maybe it's the stutterer's sparkwhat will
Always rhyme with highwiring in stormy weather.
All of the things you've done feel heavier
& heavier & though you think you're free & clear,
There's a purpling heat in the throat, gulping
Its way down & deeper. A bonfire of racing
Dominos falling into each other & then into pieces.
Just like the one that flared up in front of you
As you tried to navigate I-35's rush-hour traffic
& had to choose: back of the semi or guardrail.
Who knew that the answer to both was
Uselessness. Hands gauze-wrapped, two
Bowling ball-sized Q-Tips. But all of you feels
Gorgeous in the burning inside you.
The crackling inferno's pops & tears.
Cinders tornado up from whatever you
Used to be, but there's so little left: Crashing
Waves of catcalls & dinner time whistles
& come on heartzip, get over here
Black eye & how'd that go for you. Cinders upward
Shearing, curves of blindlit scratches in the air.
You look up one last time & there's a mobile
Above you in the deepass darkPearls & glowworm
Nubs & hot pepper lights & shot glasses
Filled neon orange, & beyond that, a sky
Filled wingless seagulls & warplanes & full
Lips that whisper unhearable things. Turning,
The constellations above you turning & turning.
The song inside you almost to the end
You've never heard but know & you reach
Up, grasping for peeling light, stretched out,
Hands clawing open & closed. What's left of us,
What hasn't been picked & torn away
In long strips of fleshYou reach for the wayward
Brightness. Again & again. It will be thousands
Of years before you're able to press the radiance
Into the sockets of your eyes, but you don't care
Anymore. The song, you know, will go on, too
Fading in & out & away, an everlasting
& Doppler in between of emergencies
& timeout little busters. Always & forever.
Grace at the tongue tip & standing out
On the front steps, candles lit & harmonizing.
Copyright © 2011 Alex Lemon All rights reserved
from The Literary Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission
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