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Two Poems

What words go with crossing? Orange and security and ventriloquist. This is a special message. The movie is unbearable and there isn’t even a movie. The condensation of a fart poured into a plastic mold and set in the window like sushi or landscape. The way he laughed, I hated him more than his own mother. It wasn’t really a special message but the same message as always. As a tapeworm sucks nutrients from your experience. Which is the reason, duh, for your throbbing sadness. But to extract it, you’ll need to place the honey-word at the tip of your tongue and wait to lure the worm upward. Just when you feel it twitching at the back of your throat, making you cough and retch at once, you’ll have to stick out your tongue as far as it goes. There’ll be one chance, just one, as the worm stretches for the honey-word. That’s when you pinch its head between your fingers. Too gently, it snaps back like a rubber band. Too hard, you kill it and in its death spasm, it evacuates all its eggs inside you. 

The Pause

His mulberry trees overhung my driveway and stained my car. Just a minute, executioner. Even without a fork, I ate everything on the plate, but my fingertips smell like jalapeños. Definitely said frap, that I should watch out because he didn’t want the door to frap my head when he opened it. Which is what happened. As somewhere outside, spring is probably pulling open the tulip tree buds. With a little frap. Just a minute, executioner. All the toothpaste spatter frapped the wall at the same angle as if the toothbrush banged the sink in the same trajectory every time. The guy next to me sounded good when he got back from the hospital. Meaning I could tell it was the same person. I’ve been pretty clenched. Most of my life. Please, just a moment. I want to close my eyes and I want to relax a few seconds.  

Forrest Gander is a United States Artists Rockefeller Fellow and the author of many books of poetry, essays, fiction, and translation, including Then Come Back: The Lost Neruda Poems (Copper Canyon) and Alice Iris Red Horse: Poems of Yoshimasu Gozo (New Directions), a book in and on translation. He won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for his collection Be With (New Directions). His collection Twice Alive will be published by New Directions in April 2021.