Five Poems

when I get advice

Go in fear is what someone from across
the long table tells me about the actual chronology
of a Monday. A fox reveals himself
on an empty street. I start counting down.
I depend on department store windows to tell me
what holiday I must prepare for. One day into
the next braids people together. Someone circulates
an email about my life which seems like a good
opportunity to put my hand on a strange cat.
Poems are where I go to worry and tell
egregious lies. When the day is over I relax
in someone's library and they begin a long story to which
I can guess the ending: everyone
crying in a room. I begin to move the ice
around in my drink. I think about belonging
to nothing but books. This is not my life is what
I am thinking about my life. Everyone feels
small until they look
at someone else. It is time to return
to my little yellow nest. Nobody is invited to help
me glue the photos of elephants
inside their frames. Go in fear of tired
music from a wasted room.

back up plan

Plan A was well-planned and dead
Ok, I am ready to be your UPS delivery man now
I look extraordinary in brown-on-brown
I am not ready to see movies
But will consider a Fourth of July barbecue
Please remember I am allergic to pineapple
I am ready to tell you that last week
I lost most of the hearing in my left ear
Which is at least the less important ear
But I did enjoy using it
Sometimes in the park or at a baseball game
I liked it especially at night with the green curtains blowing
But the world outside my window is kind
It repeats a selection of my favorite films this year
Teenagers Staggering Home To Kiss
Smug Fern Overtakes Awful Neighbor's House
In the summer I feel confident about nursing my big ideas
Big Idea #1: think about trains non-ironically
The list goes on and on
In enumerating myself I worry that something is broken
I spend all morning in the bright kitchen on a long-distance call
Where is your sense of adventure
Is what I am asking the mirror these days

radio silence

I am inside the extinct animal museum
touching all the elephants. Maybe you
are somewhere asleep. Dumb shafts
of light on my face when I move from room
to room. This elephant is gray and small. This one
is asleep. This one is standing behind
another elephant because shyness is a real
and diagnosable thing. I am moving on and here
is a thought about planets. They are like
tomatoes dying in a bowl. Inexcusable sentences
begin but before you go which an elephant
would never say. Everything that is ruined
just rolls away like a heavy stone door.
What do I do with a heavy stone door?
Messed up light tries again.

bear projection

Here is a problem. When I wake up
they are building a fence between me
and the bear. Most things are ultimately
about confidence. This is one
of those things. Another thing is when
you meet a new feeling which makes
you feel like a confused
tree in winter. I stand on one side
of the giant fence and press my face
against it to say today my outfit is inspired
by coffee. Here is a way I confess and then
go on. When a person reaches
into the darkness that lives inside
a bear they are changed forever.
I don’t feel pity for the bear because he
is an extreme bear. He consistently
rejects the middle. He is at all times either
asleep or roaming madly through
the town. When a cold wind kicks up
it is time for both me and the bear
to get going. I am not worried so I
do not look back. He is a very good bear.

when you are brand new

It is the morning of you being brand new. We like
to say that a thing is the thing of another geography
of which an example is the lobster of the forest or the forest
of eating salad here with you. I can sleep or I
can dream. I can set goals and fall asleep
to accomplish them in my way. So much of what happens
is completely consequential like if you were not here nothing
would be where you are. Occupying space is good
so there I said it. I think I am a filter in the drain
of the sky. I think I am a dark fence that receives
information I don’t need when the world is actually all
about me and everyone else. It is about light and waiting.
What goes down over the round hills comes back.

WENDY XU is the author of You Are Not Dead (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2013) and two chapbooks: The Hero Poems (H_NGM_N) and I Was Not Even Born (Coconut Books), a collaboration with Nick Sturm. Recently poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry, The Volta, Gulf Coast, Black Warrior Review, and elsewhere—she co-edits iO: A Journal of New American Poetry / iO Books, and lives in Western Massachusetts.                                                                         
The Adirondack Review