Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Two Poems by Tony Mancus

Break even on the coin

—I say the word
you agreed upon
and now that we’re here: page crinkle,
a golf course hearsed
into a vineyard—balls teed

suppose this freight weighed
as much as dollars in coin.
As much word
as what carried wood’s
left behind. Forget the shot length
and the bag of talking sticks.

What’s now camera’d and circumstantial:
mantra, medina, occipital, medulla, oblong

I can’t make you know me better
than science. Ozymandias either. Poor dustbowl.

The bag’s disposed of, my coat hangs
limp without me. Interminable hunger at the sight
of it. Interminable hunger of arms
and all things parceled.
Think a lot of East, of Eden, think
a lot of laurel
and then of whinnying—a way through
the long afternoon’s thirst.

Who would want to eat here. The horses halve themselves
and go on display. We are not. Art no longer
available. On access: the Ah-ha video plays all night long:

Take on me take on
my thanks love, my thanks
for beaning me in the middle
of the street—a proper form of solitude.

For one dog might refuse any number of others
dependant on mood or the color patterns
invisible to its hairy eyes. We decide to be
confused and the doors to the train reflect
all of the other possibilities this city could hold
for each of us.

I am we here. You are the television’s
burbling and pale blue light or fluorescence—
a harbor view of the kitchen
laid bare with construction equipment.

Simply put, my perspective carries
your refraction
and that means the bridge between us, its bigtop lighting,
a set of teeth in a bag for when
something needs to be bitten. Some cite another path through—
a squirrel say or a person
limping the crosswalk or the millions
of dollars paid to the bridge’s intestines.
Keep flickering.

The nation of a dollar. Coined:
a thousand fuses short to make the commute
more bear-than-able and after
there are individual and startling pops

it’s like we’re not         could not even inhabit
the same plans—how bright and cold it gets

The mystery of bending

I’m going to blow the socks
off the water. Here’s a tea

pot boiling, bags wait
to be saturated so they can

share what’s inside them. With
our mouths properly inhabited, we

have a total jaw full
of bony protrusions

things that we’ll eventually
lose or have to have worked on.

This body is a cave
of wonderful aches

and production methods. I am writing
what I want less and less. In the same way

the wind picks up speed
between skyscrapers, the compass

points everywhere at once:
under the illusion

that its exploding. I’ve taken to sewing
a necklace of earphones that muffle

out round our rising chests. Money
gets tumbled clean and art

is impossible to make from a field
of doughy-eyed marionettes.

No politics set in on my top
hat or on this the best first sentence

for a new idea of the novel:
do you know, my lieutenant,

the war is another thing we cannot
touch. So our company stayed put

drunk as every bottled ship, as every
kernel of corn drawn white and out

from itself by hot and unstirred wind,
as every hand that claps itself to sleep, drunk

in the notion of deserving what comes next.
A generation of light sleepers learn their emotions

and park them right
in our faces, so we’re lost

but we recognize the cardinal
directions. The search for true

north takes a long time.
It’s surely no picnic.

Tony Mancus lives in Rosslyn, VA with his fiance and a chinchilla. He teaches writing and literature at Emerson Prep and runs creative writing workshops with Writopia Lab DC. He is cofounder of Flying Guillotine Press and prefers sleep to pancakes, though pancakes can be enticing. Some of his poems can be found online at 42Opus, No Tell Motel, H_ngm_n, CUE, and elsewhere.