CONJUNCTIONS: A Web Exclusive
Three Poems
Dan Rosenberg


Hair

I came to, feeling broke
about the head,
a crown of spoons in my hair.
Funny, I hadn’t thought myself
thick enough still for all this
eating and being eaten.
At the party of miraculous drugs
I’d been teetotaling my way along:
Repeatedly sniffed past,
I knew everyone
was behind me with fogged spoons
hanging from their noses.
The rest of the night was a blurry string
of stop signs worn
like a necklace around
the neck of an Italian girl.
She posted herself at every corner:
Noli me tangere.
Spooning the hostess I told her
the party of miraculous drugs
was behind me, with a nose
hanging from its disgusting face.
She started feeding spoonfuls of drugs
into my hair. She fed
the Italian girl into my hair.
The stop signs curled
like burnt paper, red,
they split my ends.
I had to lie down
under the miraculous bed,
my head pressed flat to the floor.
I felt her shift above my temples,
surreptitiously tickling
her own nose. I couldn’t even
roll on my side,
so heavy was my hair. I thought,
I’ll always have her up there,
sated and tender in a tangle.


At the Cathouse

Seven kinds of leopard splayed,
and within each leopard a smaller,
more subtle ear pressed my pulse.
Every you’re the one rebounded

its course around my vascular shame.
I stayed wholly present; my shame
left crying off a clothes-line.
The leopards set me awry; they were

toothy guideposts with new gravity.
Undulation, I passed over you again,
and again your sensual maw became
a paradigm of weaving with the right

and unraveling with the left.
Then your lame prey conjured herself
in a shroud of mist and I
choked, the image of what you want

with fingers slender as a wave of knives.
From some inner darkroom then
the leopards breathed out black light
while I turned my eyes to them. I sanctified

the leopards, each distinctly barred,
each tensile, taut; each palm to head
echoing a brush behind the ear,
a cupping at the base of the skull
like I was fully constituted.


If It’s Not Coming It Must Be Going Away

Drop the slow winter jacket
to the floor. I pray for the cold
to stay in it forever. In six months
I will still be young and forgetting winter.
The new trees will slice
my fingers open. Trees will spill out.
But for now I have somehow
placed my insides on the surface.
Every time a train whistles
my redbreast collapses.
Nobody can see her, but we all hear
the whistle. Ice thickens the pond
each night. Each day I find
a fat rhombus of sun and stay
on its edge. Here the sidewalk seems
unreasonably happy, and even
the mud around the busted hose
could birth my children; I’ve been
all over this place. I’ve lived here
longer than I’ve been alive,
so slowly does time leak
into this town. In winter
I conceive of the trees and am
surprised to be a supporter
of snow, a center, a core of value.
We come so close to absolute
zero we nearly stop our atoms
in their shivering. Or the reverse:
one foggy bowl of soup
heating my motion all night
on the porch with visible breath.
Everything exposed
becomes a border full of open doors.
Impure. When I leap
off the edge of my porch I believe
in the ground below to fall to.
I believe in the ground
below that as well.