Formal Feelings and Other Poems
for Katie Peterson
After great pain, it’s like daylight savings time, sudden, squint worthy, tired-eyed.
If bugs had mammal brains, they would feel formal heading for the cracks and walls,
Who put all these trees here,
and then soil, bulbs sending up their hard,
so I can’t wait for moonlight on bodega red awning?
For instance, Marie de France, gobstopper, was wimpled.
On the sunnier side of negative space, you are ageless fly in person,
grooming and delightful manner, too.
I am getting to be something of an Irish guido,
said the man with the weird beard, D.H. Lawrence.
The old beef-boy in shorts with so much skin,
so many tattoos, smoking in gold chains,
he passes the Jesus with a bocce ball in hand,
bone white sober deity with a reasonable beard.
I think this is the International style,
from Maine to China.
The main attraction is the red head,
big gold chain with a necklace plate, spandex black,
tight pink shirt, two colors
of nail polish, like a sunset over the sea
in a visionary landscape by a Norwegian spastic,
frayed canvas buttoned pumps.
Now how about that for signifying?
She might wonder, Am I a big gold chain with a necklace plate?
I remember the posters of Big Daddy Kane in the eighties
plastered over the plywood under Manhattan scaffoldings.
Here are narrow rushing rivers rarely, more and more
meandering rivers, more or less standing
and free, in no hurry. The red fox in the pasture
sees the same caramel cows every day,
eats magpie meat when he gets it,
for sporty detailing with white stripes
like theirs, or black and brown ones.
Blinds up on the clarity and social club
drinkers of Mythos and black coffee
and watchers of white marble soccer legs.
Sometimes, the lovers look at each other
and two words pop into their basic heads:
L E O N S P I N K S,
because his teeth. It’s Friday.
Sometimes, from a passing car, “Black Dog”
or the Steve Miller Band on the way
to Luau Night at the church gym,
a K through 8 chicken dance
Maryologists all around
down the broken step
past the third grade teacher
in his actual neck brace.
In a room behind the pizza ovens
and the white wooden walk-in cooler,
the busboy feeds loaf after quartered loaf
of mozzarella to the cheese grinder,
bin after bin of cheese
in the pure dairy air of love.
Down on the avenue,
the bands are unloading
their black-cased amps and instruments
from their open vans
in the sunlight of evening
that begins the night,
empty tables in the bar,
trees over the alley
in green twilight.
No railings on a wooden flight of steps
to the back apartment on
the second floor
under catalpa tree flowers,
to go up that way and then down.
All this pushes an immense longing.
In the bar, she shouts back, I’M A MUSIC THERAPIST. Small bar, the musicians stand between the customers, and that’s from a plunger, that trumpet mute. I WORK IN PALLIATIVE CARE. The magnolias are all brown shreds because they bloomed too early. I AM A HOSPICE PHYSICIAN. What do people want to hear on your guitar? WISE MEN KNOW. ONLY FOOLS FALL IN LOVE. The door opens. Cold air. Soporific, early spring, burning, cold.
I WENT TO A CHRISTIAN COLLEGE IN BUCKS COUNTY, IN PENNSYLVANIA.
These two, their bedroom is a flute case. No.
I PLAY FOUR SETS A DAY. GUITAR. LOVE SONGS. HYMNS. FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE DYING.
In the middle of the night, it snowed.
There was moisture in the air all winter that never got cold, and in the middle of the air there was a crossing guard in a florescent green coat, double wide.
There was a boulder with a turnip on top of it under miles of clouds. There was a tattoo shop in the foggy glow. Seagulls in the parking lot: a whole lot of cotton wadding.
If you would only remove your surgical mask, I could see that kisser.
Well I remember Halloween
in Ireland. Apples and nuts.
Apples and nuts. It was so weird
to get health food I didn’t even mind.
It’s not like I needed more Flake.
Oh it took a few rounds to get okay.
The midnight moonrise over trees,
huge and orange,
the gloss on my rubber band goon face.
Here are masks way more ancient,
faces cut in striped worn out shirts,
maybe from wrinkled pillow cases,
not monsters, but middle-aged men,
with brush mustaches, eye glasses,
eyebrows, not the Marx Brothers,
but maybe fathers and uncles
or the neighbors kids become.
Scary. And wonderful.
DAVID BLAIR’s first book Ascension Days was chosen by Thomas Lux for the Del Sol Poetry Prize in 2007. Since then, in addition to appearing in Salamander, his poems have also appeared in Agni, Boston Review, Fulcrum, Ploughshares, Slate, and most recently in InDigest, Her Royal Majesty, Terminus, and Gastronomica. He teaches at the New England Institute of Art in Brookline, Massachusetts. This fall, he is also teaching in the MFA Program in Writing at the University of New Hampshire.