Three Poems


everything just gets old 
and we don't need
a french word to describe it—
a word for a tree
a green thing out there a mesh of foliage
and the bird a plum-breasted whatever
and glorious in flight—
the enemy is indiscriminate numbers 
the morning against the day
in time you get to know it has no name
and you say you didn't know 
until you knew its name
as if everything is ineffable
and they call you nobody
swallow you like a whale 
in and out in waves
a constellation spilled into the stars—
one hot sponge not the human heart—
somewhere in the Bible it may say so—


in the beginning was the future.
memories are seeded with the stone.
I have taken the point too far.
through the silences where thought collects
in a dead tongue, I know you are there.
you guide me like the moth out of the cave.
Jesus, it burns my eyes to read into it
because it is a desert. the intersections 
we call nouns, where matter came
from an old Germanic word that meant fate, 
was taken from an especially mystical sound.
how inarticulate it all seems to be. 
such an ugly word washed away from the temple walls,
making it easier to believe it wasn’t the meaning 
but the sound all alone, like a coyote yelping. 
you’d know what I’d say if I were you, 
I’d say you been looking in the wrong place
and you should listen to yourself is all—
the source of light remains its ray.
so i turn away from you, the selfless act,
towards narcissism. I will be your mirror alone.

Against Poetry

poetry is supposed to make you feel something.
I’m not exactly sure where. where the mouth moves,
where the thing touches and keeps falling off the edge
of your horizons. I can feel nothing but layers:
what is it that the sun burns? it takes about a year
for returning to, the relationship outgrows its encasements.
the long grasses by the lattice sprouting
between the trees on a fresh spring day, 
buzzing through the trees and in the hives.
money that trusts in uncertainty.
poetry is supposed to be emotional: I am upset
about money, about having nothing to eat.
poetry is dead. the holy zero is hungry.
it’s time to throw a virgin in.
(similes are like red sweaters in the wash,
metaphors are old socks in the dryer.)
to look deeply into it for what is not you, 
a word with no reference but only cross-wires, 
aware of the accident of its birth, 
nerves, of senses, of the nameless 
but the finest grains are what slip through 
one’s fingers most easily, like the unseen pore. 
the only point is zero, the exit in a realistic
version of it, the stem of the eye went all the way down
into the obvious, to hide from what it saw.

RIAN HARRIGAN currently resides in Kansas City where he enjoys writing his poems and short stories. He has worked as a guitar teacher, janitor, competitive gardener, university film instructor, and as film archivist at the American Jazz Museum. In the fall of 2014 will be entering the University of Texas at Austin's PhD program to study Native American and U.S. history.
The Adirondack Review