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Five Poems from Letters to the Alphabet
At first my collectedness was like a lichen on the skin, a chicken licken consuming itself into
Thoughts of now and never for tomorrow, never for the Old English lic. But that’s OK.
Turns out my newspaper either got cancelled (and why are there fireworks on my block?)
Or someone forgot how to pay for things with all that doled money. Thanks for mine!
How it starts is with a commission. And with all of those letters lingering in bundles, some
Rehearsed, and then all dressed, that lined up as though golden and trumpets add up to
More than we would be played in the song we assumed we’d written ourselves. No as a note
Of answer gets kind of drunk, becomes like Möbius dragging around a dream.
Or like the chicken in my pot I’m cooking along with for the dog asleep or nearly asleep
Colitic on the blue couch. We are sentenced, and once in a while are forced to choose,
To select between avocados and lawyers. It was a big joke on the gravel of the playground
How god was dog spelled backwards. Or so I recall, being the other way round. Anyway,
Dodge ball is out, and tag, and Red Rover Red Rover. The plague is out of fashion
As are bees.


(I want nothing short of not being brief. It’s a peccadillo. Chickens take longer
Than they did. If I wasn’t kind today, it’s because I am feeling out of sorties like a movie
That ends before anything gets said that might resolve the question
Of why anyone would spend time making or watching a movie, or a bed.
Time turns out not to have been money, not at least in the meager computations
I can afford. The emu is a savage bird, and to say “tautology” is barbaric
Unless you wear kid gloves and your hands are small. Tonight the menu included
Chicken with peccadillo sauce. Delish. The vegetables were less compliant before being
Cut. Let’s form a newspaper club and ask ourselves out for a Campari on the Lido
Before all the best seats are taken at the Jack Shack. Whispers are often taken
For the truth about the way bathtubs can become, in the wrong hands, explosive.
It’s hard to believe how much difference a simple thing like wire can make,
Though by now the inference is fatal, when what I meant was music, the love
Of music in the air when one walks through silver gelatin and becomes affixed
into a distance.)


The way a noted genius reputes to never have changed his underpants is the essence
Of our, rather my apocrypha. The air conditioner got turned down so low it drools on the
Sidewalk and the orange carpet as I stand at the door smoking though I do not smoke.
We ask ourselves if these things are connected because they have been brought so
Innocently here and made to touch each other and the electricity
Is abundant if not exactly fatal. Sensing there is more to come the dog has left the room.
The television girl asks of us why heretofore the fluids have been portrayed as blue.
Now is the time for honesty regarding our discussion of the truer colors.
How do they stand it? is one question. How do we stand it up? is a comedy.
I have to pause here for the palpitations and national anthem, a jet in the sky, and snow.
No one has believed in their truest heart that Johnny Carson is dead,
That concentrics perish on bicycles, that Andy Griffith ever had a wife.
Two nice girls, their flutes and the bronze ringings piped, like a mist of papaya.
I thought long ago was sooner than it came to be. The cop on his radio said
Skunks was everywhere.


Someone made the penguin baby stare through the screen all night after the party.
I decided to give my knees to my grandmother but there was no doctor, no room,
No light, there was nothing but Brooklyn a long time ago, its pains having come
To seem dark and golden. Later the party for the Japanese supermodels got cancelled.
Gregoire said: is that you in the picture? if so, why is your woman so distant, and why are
you so aloof? if i’m reading it correctly, you are caught in the middle, torn between the two,
but clearly favoring the speaker. regardless, it must be cool mixing in a meadow. me, i’m
stuck in a manhattan apartment, where the only fresh air is on npr. Squeegybug replied: It’s a
good interpretation ubk. But I think the caption is, “And now it’s getting dark and a storm is
coming and tomorrow is the birthday of my friend whose neighbor owns the pet store
where that girl who wrote that book about spontaneous combustion bought her cat carrier
so she could take him to the drag races but he quit and moved to Kentucky to start an online
candy bar tasting service and you had to lose the car keys. Well, they are
fun speakers anyway.”


Would there be no word for “probably” in the new kingdom, not even for a baby?
Most of the music in these libraries I have pressed from apples dried in crayon shoe boxes
Is lost to us; there are no machines left that can reproduce it, and the book about how to
Make a garden got leaned in the rain and I had to give it up, to return it to the librarian.
To say the words, “And there would be no replacement” makes me want to punctuate
Like a Londoner, with everything outside the lonesome marks of possession. ‘Basketball’.
I had no idea Oprah was so interested in Michael Jackson’s crotch-gripping until well
After he died of the same drugs I am almost taking for my condition. Give me a little
Cigarette, the subtitle says, as if there were any difference between a cannibal and a vampire
Except that one is not yet dead. We wake ‘up’ with sleep in our eyes, and so
Easily rub it away, stretching to examine a gold crust of pollen picked from a corner.
It isn’t worth looking at but we look at it just the same, you showing me yours
If only from the other side. Something legged is crawling along the gap in the door;
The train starts sounding its low bleating horns. It may be the train, I whisper,
And its golem.

Theodore Worozbyt is the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Alabama and Georgia Arts Councils. His books are The Dauber Wings (Dream Horse Press); Letters of Transit, winner of the Juniper Prize (University of Massachusetts Press); and Smaller Than Death (Knut House Press). He teaches at Georgia State University.