Original Poetry

Casuistry of The Seas

Casuistry of The Seas

Folklore holds various alternate positions that one might
require to be re-appropriated quietly while they do not pay

attention that could very much be consumed by the creep
of yellow mold and a vinegary sort of flavor left on the back

of a tongue spending too much time tasting and not enough
at the other things that tongues are useful for.

So no, I don't buy into all of this, I don't accept what might be
accepted as a sort of palliative to the general ebb of things.

But, stuff being what stuff being is stuff, stuff can otherwise
come in useful which stuff being sort of kept but resented

with a sort of turned up sort of attitude, where turned down
might remain the motions that have been or what else

the takenness of things that put in a lot of pressure,
barometric or otherwise, the point is that it increases

that ears pop, that I end up with the bends and my blood
overoxidizes and that's that then, and leave the rest
of it all for future generations to dissect and to analyze.

Greenpoint Brooklyn, 1999

Greenpoint Brooklyn, 1999

Czech rebel I remember not so much the rest dear
America what pieces of me will you keep?

It was 99 cents and yeasty and so good cold
and I don't know that anybody paid rent there

but there we were and what love I did not yet think
I knew. Dear America, do you have in small cedar boxes

my pieces of the East River that have kept me rapt
where wrapped I have held summers like that.

Dear America, do you remember that the dope
was dry shake all stems and seeds all cut with

ephedrine in glycerine capsules melting micro
dots under our tongues. What is still dear, America

this place that I come back to, sweating now in
recollection the collected plaster crumbles like snow

field raptures like me like we have never been called
dear, America. Still. Still in with the cheap stuff distilled

from the meltwater in summer, maybe tho but for
but for the condensation, the sweat on the bottle

and sweltering like we do. Dear America, we've had our
differential equations, our earthquake laser targetting

systems like eye beams the railing we have railed
our Laotian season, we tho quiet, a Graham Greene

quiet of us dear, America I have questions. I have a list
of requirements. I have unmet demands and tattoos

on the skin inside my mouth where ink like burnt skin
hangs down and scrapes against my tongue so slainte

we like our arm chair irish famine anarchists drink our own health and wonder
yet at another year dear America, we have got at least one more.

Happy April Fools Day

I'm trying again to do the poem a day thing for national poetry writing month. If past years are a good predictor then I will probably be giving up in the next few days. In the meantime here's my first NaPoWriMo poem

Happy April Fools Day
I
still
dreamt
about
you
again
and
will
again
my
.

Night Swim

This poem originally appeared in The New England Review

Stranger, the bats fly low tonight,
the moon’s cloaked in cloud. Three strokes
and I’ve lost you, too. In a cold ripple,
I’m water-logged, unwound—

I want a shadow of a shadow,
a homeless floater. Give me a word
that lights the lake and makes you
less strange. My silence palm-slaps

the surface, my body fishes
for yours. I’ll swim to you all night
and not find you. Or I’ll find you
and never stop swimming.

Jennifer Chang's first book of poems, The History of Anonymity, is forthcoming in Spring 2008 from University of Georgia Press

Among The Birds, One Flew Alone

Though silent the whisper could be visualized,
across the gray-blue sky a wrinkle of animated gliding,
soft as in the ending life of an aging wave,
an alone rendition of familiar avifauna, reflective of
circumstantial becoming, wings had an instance
towards cease.

Relegation regarding trailing defined new disposition.
Light amongst wind assisted with winged affirmation,
meaning eventual landing in the definition of assure
will eventually arrive, although what would ensue
was not in the category of the same explanation.

According to Darkness, Silence Dons a Halo

The spinning enjoyment of dusk’s communal culture,
whose language of content spreads its contagious calmness
through the winding metaphorical maze of
regard for existence, the triangular connection
of movements, spaced between etching fragrant
gifts toward a particular purpose of its own meaningful
motive.

As in the wonderful movements of monarch butterflies,
their orange wings with adorning black-white ornamental
displays of transferable sections of moving, circular light.
Antecedently to dawn’s open mouth, darkness in the safe
idiom hides below the highest halo, golden hanging light
not yet born before the pushing of the orange slant,
its genesis causes separation to shed myriad of variant
colors to escape into mesmerizing mannerisms.

E MAIL TO DAMNISO LOPEZ 209

“Dylan Thomas drunk himself
Into a coma so he would not know
What his poems were saying,”
Robert Duncan.

“When you write a sonnet,
You are not writing poetry,
But are playing tennis,
Playing tennis with the net up.
I hate Robert Frost,”
Lind Call.

“To be a genuine reader of poetry
One must get rid of unquestioned
Habits of mind and the assumptions
That the ordinary reader brings
To the act of reading, one must
Read the figurative as if literal,
The imaginative as if factual,
The metaphors as if direct statements
Of what is experienced, read
Symbolism as clear and distinct
Statements of actuality, do not
Interpret.,” Norris Benjamin.

I remember the Automat,
Mainly the automat on eighth street,
The automat in the fur district,
Dead minks carried on racks
That bump over the bricks
Of Eight Avenue, shirtless
Puerto Ricans fighting at midnight
Over a long black-haired girl
Who wore a long black dress
That covered her ankles
And their many ankle bracelets,
A Chinese laundry that returned
Loose shirts, stiff, their solid colors,
Pastels. Chinese laundry one block
From the automat.

It was a long time ago, before
Pornography replaced the fur business
On Eight street, a long time ago,
Before the “peep show.”

Yes, I remember the heyday
Of the Automat. There were
Then even communists and
Anarchists eating at the automat,
There was much talk of Peter Kropotkin,
It was an Age of Innocence.

The day I remember most
At the Automat
Was the day
After I put a nickel in a slot,
Turned a handle
And black coffee poured into a cup,
And I saw
A Stone Age man
Come into the Automat.
The Stone Age man
Looked so happy
When he inserted two nickels
And a slice
Of coconut cream pie
Came out on a saucer.
The Stone Age man
Was fascinated
That the insertion
Of two nickels
Would bring out food.
The Stone Age man
Spoke to me, said
“I had to kill animals
To get food.
I loved the animals,
But I had to kill
To get food.
Briars cut my ankles
As I hunted to get food.
Now, all I have to do
Is insert two nickels.
Now someone else climbs
The coconut tree,
Hacks off the coconut,
All I have to do
Is insert two nickels.
I like this New York City,
I like this civilization.”

At my table
At the Automatic
Was a New York born
And bred poet,
A subway mystic,
A sensitive man
Who had a mystic vision
When he heard
A subway squeak
Or saw bums
Sitting on benches
At the Subway exit
To the Cloisters.”
He wrote what he
Called “Deep Images.”
He confided to me
That he wished
He were a primitive.
He wished to live
As a primitive in
The Stone Age
When man
Was close to nature,
Close to Hawks,
Not subways,
Close to hand-dug wells,
Not faucets,
Close to the Mantis.
He cried, sobbing
“How I wish
I could have
Been a primitive.”

He continued to discourse,
“Even now
I get my news from trees,
If I can find a tree,
There are some trees
Coming out of iron
Over sand on sidewalks.
I get my news from trees,
Not newspapers.
All journalists are
Self-deceived fools,
These self-deceived fools
Keep writing lies,
And these fools are so
Self-deceived
That these fools believe
They are writing
Factual, objective accounts
When these fools
Are writing lies.
Newspapers are the enemies
Of truth.
I get my news from trees.”

“A writer writes to unlearn
What he has received as truth.
The writer writes to express himself
And in this expression finds knowledge;
The writer writes to express himself
And know. A writer does not know
And express what he knows. If he knows
And expresses what he knows, he
Would only be less-than-a-mediocrity
And thus extremely popular,”
Norris Benjamin.

Bath

At the center of labyrinth
alleys is a school with a plaque
reading, "No revving motor-
cycles during class." Perhaps
herds of Hell's Angels dropped
kick-stands by these Roman
walls and gunned a double-
fist salute to boys in uniform
trapped at their desks. The owner
of the corner shop will not
confirm it. Instead he sells
postcards, three for a pound,
counterfeit scenes of cathedrals,
the countryside, and gray skies.
But the wind shifts and the sun
shoots through the clouds
like a young bean plant. I take
a photo just to prove it was there.

Bombsighted on Apteryxes

Before this hour, and it's drain a feast,
Thursday had brought us dewlaps,
and played the mellisonant band.

Lets have been guided by invidia,
heads shaken, and I'm thinking of how
the blackguards grow, I'm thinking a
whit of this ringing back through time.

There is no time here, though my bed
is checked for wetness. I am presenile,
hooting from sobbing, and erstwhile, onetime,
prospered in the pleasant flights of apteryxes.

If you listen, the minutes are in me
swift and twisting; they enter so softly,
passing me nights as on blackened stilts—
oh you dark and harmful bits. You frig-years,
bombsighting and aging me from the phantasms.

These minutes take from the bee fuzz,
to the texture of bark upon the cutis,
make faces of cold, rippled philo, or
from among the youngest, the story
going smoothly into comedones and papules,
then doughy into liverspots and ruckles.

Swayed and low among the dodos,
the subsisters, laying in wait and in a row,
I watch the sloping lines.

Grief

This is the beginning of December.
Snow covers apartment blocks,
churches and blinking snowmen,
trickling through to the page
where you’re writing a poem
about a woman trudging through
snowstorms, her footprints
slowly disappearing in stanzas
empty on the inside.
You want to follow, but it’s cold
and snow has filled in all the exits
out of your room.