Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Poem by John Casquarelli and Aimee Herman

vacuumed sequence of non-committal   
I keep breaking down mountain landscapes
to subjects and predicates
call upon lineage        within line        wrinkle         mourning
hang on roots and branches
study some meaning that has entirely changed
today: hatred        unconfirmed traumatic        mothers' sick grows louder while baby still forms lashes and opinions        later: love       or skinny        or bone structure reveals homo sapien finger swallow           tomorrow: cancer     or a way out of hair comb and breast swell
say okay in a noncommittal voice
hand over cliff notes version of self
place napkin upon folded lap and nod
agree to hate because love is too messy and expensive
always have a lover on the side who will do the things the Bible disagrees with
do whatever it is I like
but what I like can be both
fact and hallucination
dream sequence or invasion of privacy
only after a long period of time          do women wonder why gender is pressed against bathroom doors
this isn’t rare science
common sense
just plain stuck avoiding you
there is decision in indecision      in fragmented opinion      in reduced price vocalization
at the worst possible moments            toenails curve up toward skylight
but a branch of our river
that runs past old sawmill town
to front porch and twenty year memories
but a growth on the side of a road
on interstate twenty or route nine
swells beneath tires and rubber rib cage
there is such a thing as quality
though completely irrational
after many turns you dig your feet
into the soft duff of needles edgewise
or you’ll slide down
burn like grass surrounding trees
scatter and collapse into shade
we’re too accustomed to hand filled promises
of oxygen laughter over jazz radio that
floods miles of empty horizon
sit with line in water
and turn away from pine odor mid-afternoon
hidden beneath the braids in your hair
“closeness has nothing to do with what is asked,” I said
you have to be in a certain mood to accept bad advice
with little practical value
the kind that makes your lips bleed
at the canyon wall where the wind freezes
there’s a name for this kind of semi-desert
but I don’t know what it is
why every word quivers off the glass door
each time you motion to me
“glass wheels have no religious preference/   glass eyes have no directional pattern/   glass sip has no language requirements/   glass woman has no idea where her hips are/   glass word has no choice but to fissure/   glass womb has no comfort in its supper/   glass man has no limbs beyond his weapon/   glass house    glass spit    glass animal    glass empty    glass collapse    collapse    synapse    sinking    skin graft ” 
every marriage should come with an interpreter
merge both classic and romantic understandings
about what looks good

you in that dress looks good
you with that paycheck looks good
you and that mortgage and these diamonds
and a maid and weekly flower delivery
and leather furniture
and stainless steel appliances
and surrogate body to house our children
and monthly appointments of cosmetic enhancements
looks good
scrub small patch of emotion when you’re absent
                                   hoping for some answers amid ocean trenches
                                   of self-awareness

dinosaurs are obsolete
though you're bound to discover
plenty of them at almost every job
conversations with no point or purpose
other than to ditch rocky gorges in dry country

maybe it's just the usual late evening letdown
but if you're a sloppy thinker five days a week
then why should you give a shit about the weekend
John Casquarelli is an English professor at Boricua College in New York. He received his M.F.A. in the Creative Writing program at Long Island University. He was awarded the 2010 Esther Hyneman Award for poetry. His work has appeared in several publications including Downtown Brooklyn, Kinship of Rivers, By The Overpass, Brooklyn Paramount, Pulp, The International Rebecca West Society, and Sun’s Skeleton. His first full-length book, On Equilibrium of Song, was published by Overpass Books (2011).

Aimee Herman, a queer performative poet, has been featured at various New York venues such as Dixon Place, Wow Café Theatre, Public Assembly, and Sidewalk Café. She has performed at reading/performance series such as: Hyper Gender, Sideshow: Queer Literary Carnival, and Red Umbrella Diaries. Her poetry can be found in InStereo Press, and/or journal, and Polari Journal. Her first full-length book, To Go Without Blinking, was published by BlazeVOX Books (2012).

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