So it is not
Museum Studies, maybe, or Biological Nano-Engineering,
versus staying on the farm, or in town doing daycare, waiting tables:
using symbols to make a living, or moving slop, chauffeuring
hearses. Were all farmers equally wealthy, we’d still be in Eden.
Comparisons are odious – they show injustice, show pretty marble is no
gemstone – though rocks are equally rock. True, plain shale may hide oil,
rare talents may die unused within long dresses hiding almost everything –
hems’ devoutness derived from dragging in the “steadfast dust symbolic.”
Write me an e-mail; I can’t handle you on the phone, you’re too gentle.
Fairness shmairness. Good breeding doesn’t promise good sex, doesn’t
brighten the dreary saltmarsh ahead of us, clumpy and gray, its fetid
air already drooling out to frighten us: what if we can’t stop finding
wealth better than poverty? No Buddhists we if Rhine wine mixed with
seltzer water still makes a near-perfect cure for the morning after.
A tree is a scepter-shaft with leaves.
From the midst of such stiffness flowers surge
combining us in such an aura of scents or ideas
individuals forget for instance
to stop at traffic lights not
in suicide but swept and
then rolled away, waves on a beach,
so that chromosome strings may replicate
without a single thought
It goes like this: a man and a woman are alone.
Then children arrive. It’s perfect
the way the world occurs, in patterns.
Centuries fly. The idea of Eden
arrives, seeming inevitable, then dislodges,
a cerebral miscarriage.
The oncomingness of the world never slackens.
There was a crisp sunrise this morning.
The neighbors played golf. To what can one be
faithful by never gratifying desire?
Signals are reaching us from tall metal towers.
The mockingbird sounded surprised by the song
he just sang, the one he’ll never be able to repeat
or remember, the one with the holy sphere
of the world wholly in it. Flowers do bloom anywhere,
even from guns. We hold our pencils
at the ready. We hold our magic breath: what
will the leads speak? Invisible gigantic machinery
shifts into a higher gear. Inside the crashing drone
an unheard symphony appears to be writing itself.
Off again, on again
Music videos cadence out through screens, summer midnight.
Most rooms with TVs on are occupied,
but never all.
Forgetting builds itself brick by brick into
a gazebo of oblivion, sights without smells,
words without passion, a glance, a slant lightbeam
lost in a dusty barn, the barn torn down
or moved, relic and anonymous, to another county.
Or the red and blue top left spinning in Don Wilson’s basement.
Let it spin, let it go, it could not be more gone
though I was the one who had to leave for supper.
Luxury speedboat tunneled
into a huge wave. Fairy-ring mushrooms
devoured by ants. Your departure
rips like an invisible gesture, setting beyond the horizon –
that absence tinged with afterglow, faintly Venetian.
We come together again,
optimistic as acrobats, one in the air, one on the trapeze
measuring the distance, growing, shrinking.
Or maybe this is all behind us if to begin is to begin to end.
Don’t worry. Think of me
as plump and happy, just like that Florida man
selling bottled water labeled “Fountain of Youth.”
It can’t hurt if he gets rich and famous,
and he’s happy to help anyone be silly and human.
Lost in the rough
I’ve pushed into thickets so thorny
frenzy’s spontaneous, and turned, turned
back, whipping myself harder, ducking
only to jab my head
on sticks I hadn’t seen, straightening
only to release lithe canes of briars snared
when I’d ducked, that snap.
Calm is best. Calm
is an accomplishment, helpful for golf,
not essential like the Autonomic Nervous System,
Gravity, Entropy, sun’s Fusion, sweep of Galaxy.
I’ve been thinking about popcorn: the child’s warm
tight skin, richly glowing, subject suddenly
to having to grow up. No wonder
people get out of hand, enduring it.
You maybe thought I was just out looking for my ball
or a little exercise?
Don’t nestle in here
thinking you deserve my trust.
You’re likely to fly off
and maybe take my arms with you. Myself,
I’ve done that to others already. More than once.
We don’t explode just once.
Love, it’s not all fairway.
DAVID McALEAVEY has had work in many journals over many years, ranging from Ron Silliman’s mimeo mag Tottel’s through Ploughshares, Poetry and The Georgia Review; since early 2010 He's had over a hundred poems and prose poems accepted/published by Epoch, Poetry Northwest, Denver Quarterly, Birmingham Poetry Review, diode poetry journal, anderbo.com, FRiGG, Stand (U.K.), Drunken Boat, and dozens of others. Pirene’s Fountain awarded him their Editors’ Prize for the best poem in their publication in 2011; in 2012, Convergence presented an “Editor’s Choice” special feature of his poems; and in 2013, New Delta Review has included one of his prose poems in their “best of the web” anthology. His fifth and most recent book is HUGE HAIKU (317 pp., Chax Press, Tucson, 2005). He teaches literature and creative writing at George Washington University in D.C.