You Blast Off, I’ll Drive
Like a pair of cats, sexed. Lesbian said everyone but us.
We swung Lycra-packed thighs over loaded crossbars.
We ferried into America on the pitch of the same folksong.
Our nervous joke, Louisiana’s downhill all the way.
West, our first direction, was sameness unraveling.
Compulsively, I put on a girly top and asked do I look fat?
Cycling century days unfit, you threw my favourite D. de M.
off a bridge. Too much weight: books, Jung, romance.
We lugged into unmarked woods, unlocked churches,
unpacked disdain for hot-water campers. Mid-week,
you lost the taste for fresh food and antiperspirant.
What now? I asked a supper of day-old doughnut.
Your exhausted look: we kill the Buddha of our culture.
You bitched out history, shook its dust from your up-spiked do.
I combed out long-haired poems, dredged up bolts of muslin.
Five days to cleave across New England. In Champlain,
you cheered this trip erases, crotch-first but my leg was sad
hambone. A portentous housefly licked a bead of blood.
Remember the antique car parked next to the model rocket?
That was a hasty decision, a lifetime of fidelity and distance.
In our last camp, I was a stack of water-damaged hymnals.
In the pews, you sang a feast of sacrilege.
Without us, a road slid down the map to New Orleans.
Like an egg thrown against a wall-atlas, broken just because.
Originally published at Guernica.
What unnameable would throw this on the floor,
noon refracted through blue windows
here, Newark Airport, first day of summer,
my flight cancelled, no new flight in sight—
this slice of cerulean, unwavering, clear blue
more indescribable for never being asked for?
Poetry, like the imagination itself, must be limitless. And there must be other ways of expressing the inexpressible, which is what—poetry is just that. Prose is about what can be said and what is known and so on. Poetry is about what cannot be expressed. I mean, terrible grief, or intense erotic feeling, or even unspeakable anger are all inexpressible. You can’t put them in words and that’s why you try to put them in words. Because that’s all you’ve got.
- Guernica: Does this “something” presuppose a kind of confession? Is confession, in poetry, a big deal?
- Lucie Brock-Broido: Confession may well be a dirty word in poetry. I know when I was a much younger poet, in my twenties, I promised myself, having been through Plath to the point where I had to take to my room for a couple of weeks and stay under the covers with The Bell Jar and Ariel, that I would move in the other direction. Plath remains one of the masters to me. You have to fall in love, retreat and then come back. Any poet I have come back to is one who stays.
Expats to this homeflat, no longer
humbled to the bottommost bottom
O America we never wanted
your size but here
it is and we can’t contain ourselves:
modest travelers in a mammoth world.
What else to do but grow
into each other?
Let’s drink to that.
Lazarus woke to the miracle of no longer fearing failure.
He lifted his two sides from the ground as he tried
To speak, one part gathering darkness, one part humming.
When he walked out, he glimpsed a world never tried.
At the crucial point, there is yet more than one way
Of proceeding, but it seldom appears that way.
That night you worried about my carrying on—
crying, raccoon eyes, my leaps between our hotel beds then
catatonia, unable to sleep in that tower of 500 rooms,
all with the same portrait above the bed—a naked
beauty cavorting against a furred beast; he a psychedelic
square of hair, she, S-shaped, pale, sleek. I prayed
our marriage would ward off bad omens, dreamt
of cages, stroked your hair. I couldn’t tell whose skin
was whose. I dreamed I was your animal.
But what they call a mountain in the valley, Bunny, we call a hill
on the mountain. What they call a prayer in their temple is an algorithm
in our commodities exchange. Better a loose tycoon, I say, than the wick in
a worker’s lantern. Better a natty cummerbund for a tool belt, our wine flutes
sweating in a tuxedo heat. Better not bother conserving our resources
for the next life. This is the next life! she says. No reckoning is coming.
I feel you I feel you I keep saying—back carved into a loaf
of back carved twice will twist the spine and make one
leg shorter, one barrel of a chest, confusing
body movements that smooth when the diaphragm’s in heavy
use—I feel you I feel you I keep saying, which means:
constant pain and paying attention. I feel you I keep saying
amid a burst of incoherent language, language being the thing
that we pour, molten, and cool and use and chip and melt
From “Thems,” by Tommy Pico.
Feature image by Matthew Palladino.