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Four Poems

There Ode

Underneath the electric microscope frass gathered like a word no one could pronounce, or something children left in a cage. Sugar ants were gorging on the corpse of a cicada next to the front door. Soon four golden mounds were theirs, to carry back in their lemony bellies to the queen. I have a box of nine suns set on spikes, a pair of gray bags concealing speakers. I am your teacher, said the teacher, alone in a room. If there is a predicate to this. The silence of what isn’t happening, and what is. I’ve never allowed myself fragments in this way. Inside the skeleton of the house, they move so slowly you cannot see them, except for this evidence, always small. One reaches for a book; it is there and there. No one reads the way they did. At least not to me. Sometimes I look out into my woods and wonder why I am not out there in them looking back. 




Me, I am not as drawn to myself as I used to think I was, but I was thinking, over a tall glass of beer collared with foam and yellow in the sunlight through the window by the table, and as though I were a trout genuinely interested in Ernest Hemingway’s execrable late stories, that I had ghosts in my blood, and that my flesh was still firm in the cold as long as I couldn’t see it, and that pebbles were under my movements, not upon them. Then in walks you, looking sleek in rust mock chinos and in the best ways timid with youth, and says, in your practiced Dr. Nick voice, I see here that you have ghosts in your blood. You had better do cocaine about them. But nothing is hiding in the rice jar. The cloud impersonator stood before me in the sovereign mirror and suggested we clear the room and teach each other a preliminary box step, vacating our path to manifold vacations on the starlight of the floor. I want to get fatter. I want to get so fat the world surrounds me like a turtle swimming in clay water. Then I might feel safe from cartoons.    




No one can report. One face is all we see. What has happened, or not happened, is yet happening. The violations have been acclimatized. The children’s cages and the borscht belt now are mere ideas. Long live rust. This is not a political poem because there is no such thing as a politic or the word politic anymore. Soon we will all be dead, or so the saying goes. In a hundred years, who will have known? Does no one want to say what everyone isn’t saying, or is saying; who can say? The good swastika is counterclockwise. You can’t erase a statue, only statutes. The serpentine belt flies off the pulleys. I was lucky to find today in the black cabinet the tool I had been looking for. It, too, was black. I plunged it into my head and slid the switch forward and heard the whirring sound. The hair growing inside me disappeared. My mind is a demonstration of that sheared absence. I left a coin on a string for the barber, who did not take the bait. I lie here with my head against the floor of the bottom of this house and listen to the termites that came from China inside a coat hanger, a sound I cannot hear, a sound I do not wish or want to need to hear. I polished the headlights with a toothbrush. The skink was bluer than the sky and disappeared.



Sorry, So Small

I consider suicide because I can’t find the reflective decals to glue to the mailbox to hide the birdshot dents. Then I pressure wash the driveway of its leaves. Later, upstairs, the slow lambent gloam of sleep is sleeping without me, as is my wife, her pulse so tender that its signal broadcasts the silences of eternity, my soft-bristled wishes. I do, I do, I do. I lightly grasp her wrist but she does not wake. I feel it in my teeth, like a throb, but not. What will I do about her pain? Nothing. I make the broth. I wash the pots and pans. I slip the spider into a glass and carry him. He has weight that I can feel. I let slip the glass. I get him back from the corner where he crouches, black as a telephone. Outside, one solar light will last until morning. The other dozens cluster like nuns or black oysters. So far four have failed. The gold dress-watch tumbles in its lacquered burled box of gears. It is losing time. The deep diver is too large now for my wrist. I will have to remove two links. Her pink chiffon gown swirls with glitter strawberries and a bad zipper. She could wear it to work with a jacket. The season changes, not me, not me, not ever anyone like me. My birthstone is the peridot. Since I was born I never liked that shade of green, which reminds me of a tree flower turning into a hornet. Because he was so small, I thought he must have been a pine cone, but I dodged him anyway with my wheel, and saw him bounce away inside the slowed delirium of my deep mistake. I felt it in the pumpkin, but so slightly it could have easily have avoided having a name. The surest sign of everything wrong is the way I shake my head slowly and with uncomprehending malevolence at others when they show their lips in public, the teeth behind them, or only their noses. My tomatoes have dark cavities. Here is the last one of the season, I will say to my friend. I hung another red feeder in the pecan tree but the hummingbirds have gone back to the place they live, the place that they come from.


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.