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Two Poems
Spleen Elegy
Little autumn flies in the skein
of southbound geese drowned out
by traffic, an even lower grade season
when I have no change for the meter.
Caffeine combats fatigue, symptom
of anemia the hematologist can’t explain.
There is iron in sundown, the approach
of needed rain, clouds filtered
by nothing and cooling an evening
scene out of which optimism is rising.
Here is Pitkin Plaza, three boys
sharing a cigarette, antibodies
bound to platelets that fuzzed-out guitars
in headphones eliminate. Downtown
clouds are dirty enough to breathe.
Anticipating early winter, the barista
concocted me a bittersweet vaccine:
inky and pungent are the grounds
that settle, black as our banter.
Verbatim I’ll repeat her practiced smile
of recognition, my beloved habit.
The chill raises my pink seam and I circulate.
Tonight I will dodge no panhandler,
I will deny myself no side street
under a sagging telephone line. Because
a ticket waits on the windshield
I will participate in the economy
of pavement, its rough image of
darkening sky, and for once accept
depth as relative. There is little
autumn in this chunk of broken tar:
worn gray, just smaller than my fist,
and lighter. It’s all in my foot-long scar.
I am in the plate glass window
walking with a less pronounced limp
and my left hand not at all idle
as it turns the jagged thing I call rock.
I drop the rock into a storm drain.
Antifreeze, Coca-Cola, runoff,
rain. To resist is to filter. Some particle
will catch as another breaks loose.


Waltz for Debby
I said to the woman
in Lenscrafters make me
sound like Bill Evans, flatter
my grainy portrait, allow
me his wild horse—
white and shining calm or
darkening and utterly
unbreakable. Accompany me
with brushes on a cymbal,
walk an unbroken bass line
while I limp toward bird
tracks, stitches in last
night’s light snow.
I see your name
is Debby. I’m listening.

Jason Labbe is the author of the chapbooks Dear Photographer (Phylum Press) and Blackwash Canal (H_NGM_N BKS). Periodical publications include Poetry, Boston Review, A Public Space, Colorado Review, and DIAGRAM. A drummer and recording engineer, he lives in Bethany, Connecticut. The poems published in the 2017 edition of Conjunctions’ online magazine are from his collection Spleen Elegy (BlazeVOX, Fall 2017).