What you won't see here is Orion, for it's neither winter nor night.
A Uruguayan you couldn't see the Southern Cross
A phenomenon one can shake off
like a fly on the hand
if considered in terms of its thermodynamics, but if considered
in terms of an animal nature
being present in one, not the other,
the fact that the temperature of the air above the asphalt
is palpably warmer than the temperature of the air
above the grass
if you feel it with your vulnerable parts
feels like the asphalt exhaling—think wide, wide, wide open mouth—
and can lead one to scratch one’s calf absentmindedly
and in my case led to dragging a fingernail across a burn still healing.
In the asphalt’s mouth, I waited for a telegram
that said I would henceforth be a snake
with a one-lunged, transparent-eyelided way of seeing things.
The me that was didn’t slither but walked to the middle of a bridge
where the shadows of the trees and the shadow of me
were like giants who couldn’t shake hands.
One kept trying. You could see him leaning, reaching
out to the left, to the right.
The reacher had the smallest shadow.
The bridge was over a river, not a road.
The water was as black as night in the country
and got blacker the more that I stared.
It took staring to see
that the river had a removable heart.
It took a rekindling of my old belief in the tone
that tells me when to turn the page
to see that it had, perhaps, two or three of them.
That it was agile enough to swallow things you wouldn’t’ve bet it could
didn’t stop me from making the constellation
man with more arms and legs than most
reaching both out and down. I was thinking
I’m a net, and I can save you from your death
if you’re falling here and now.
A Winter Wind storm lead-pipes and cheap shots the wind chime,
like wind isn't a thing but things acting in the fashion of a mob,
a gang that’s decided beautiful random notes in a minor key
are something to be beaten up.
I hung the chime on a horizontal branch in spring. I looked for the tree’s ears.
The tree conceived of as one end of a teeter-totter,
it’s the Boeing 727s and whatnot overhead
that weigh the opposite end down.
I was trying to make the contest fair.
A tree without discernible ears probably doesn’t contain the sensory capacity
to miss the wind chime,
and a small old garage doing double duty as a shed
probably will not be in awe of the wind chime’s potential
soundlessly hanging inside it.
Hoping that each of them might do so
is a disposition that in large part explains
why my to-do list is so long.
My thumbs get cold fast. My gloves are torn at the opposable seams.
Replacing them is on the list.
Moving the chime isn’t, it’s me following my guts,
trying to get through many volumes of lists.
I would never beat up anything making beautiful random notes in a minor key.
One night I went to the Howard Johnson’s bar
because we all thought that watching the antics of the divorced
picking up the divorced
would be a hoot.
The HoJo’s it isn’t there anymore.
I can’t go back to do proper restitution, hugging the divorcees with my eyes.
I hug that way more I do with my hands.
The brain in the body in the house whose owner
you curse, call a lazy piece of shit
It reads some Proust while quieting the stomach
with what billboards along the esophagus say is a cousin
of the oatmeal Gallway eats alone, is lumpish and willing
to disintegrate, is incantatory. The brain would prefer
Proust’s epidermis of light
to its own, in-need-of-lotion skin,
a no-brainer of an upgrade that forces the mouth to flog
the self with Who wouldn’t?, when out of the nowhere
that the brain knows is really a somewhere unnamed
the memory of a newspaper and a bloody mary and hashbrowns
from when you could smoke in bars and read
about the serial killer next door, about whom the best thing
any of the neighbors say worth capturing
verbatim is, I never saw it coming—who knew?,
and smartass that the brain is, it thinks, I bet his victims did,
albeit late in the game, and next the brain realizes
another way for it to be late in game,
if the game is one’s engagement
with the real, is renaming the black cat using a boot for a pillow
Marcel, renaming the brown cat on the sill
Kinnell, which is like dress-up, which prompts
the groin to send up images
and the wrists to hunker and steel
in preparation for handcuffs
until the brain in a Memo: To Everyone
says chill, which feels like waking from a dream,
and this is still just a transcript of eating breakfast alone
slowly as a way to avoid civic responsibility, delaying
the clearing of last night’s snow from the walk
which has to be done to avoid the fine
which ultimately is why the brain stops thinking
about the shovel and allows the arms to wield it.
After the snow’s cleared, is what the brain promises
the stomach and its child’s attention span,
you will have earned a sandwich made with leftover turkey
a voice in the bowels says on record
needs to be eaten today or thrown.
Matt Mauch is the author of If You’re Lucky Is a Theory of Mine (Trio House Press), Prayer Book (Lowbrow Press), and the chapbook The Brilliance of the Sparrow (Mondo Bummer). His poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Salt Hill, H_NGM_N, DIAGRAM, Willow Springs, The Los Angeles Review, Sonora Review, Water~Stone Review, and on the Poetry Daily and Verse Daily websites. He hosts the annual Great Twin Cities Poetry Read, and also the Maeve’s Sessions readings, and edits the anthology Poetry City, USA, an annual collection of poetry and prose on poetry. A Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant recipient, Mauch teaches in the AFA program at Normandale Community College, and lives in Minneapolis.