Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2016  Vol. 15 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Benders of Past Glory at the Blankety-Blank Bar

They had to wrestle us
To the ground like angels

For us to admit it,
That supposition used to be

Something one could really
Suck on. We’re not

Mourning loss of flavor
Nor are we sad to see

That hope’s been cut on
The bias. It’s an anniversary

Once again of walking
Through the doors

Of that club, the stairs
On the right to the hall

For all the Polish weddings,
Or the ground floor,

Parrish’s Daybreak
In the room with pool tables

And ashtrays. No one wants
Blossom-end rot, but it’s

Here in our distal parts,
Even for us who have not

Wanted to putter and
Shuffle and ding up

The freshly-painted benches
With the sharpness

Of our bodies. The naked
Girl/boy leans over

The clothed girl/boy, 1922,
The year of:

The Waste Land, Ulysses,
Spring and All (really 1923),

Duino Elegies, Jacob’s Room,
Siddhartha, The Beautiful and

Damned, Trilce,
Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus,

Harmonium (really 1923), “tentative,
Perverse, and superfine;

And it will never be popular,”
(Sayeth Mark Van Doren). That which

Is inside the four brass spittoons
We’d let slide into the slop

Bucket, the ur-action painting
Of vomit and bile on the toilet

Stalls, the mirrors still huffed
With spree and helix, and

We would whirl too or our heads
Would whirr, our tails if we had

Them would be twitching and
Whipping the air. But perhaps

“Explanations” really do “spoil
Things.” The milk warming

In the shepherd’s hut,
The rennet from the fourth stomach

Of calves. Louts with umlauts,
Perpetual fists, first to die.

We are either opposite or
Alternate, whorled or spiral.

All the grown-ups around
The groaning board. The state

Of the state of advanced rotting.
We are lined up like leaves, some

Of us alive even in winter, leaning
Over to whisper something

Entirely forgivable to someone
Else, a number not divisible,

Or a whisper of a color no one
Can see, or something riding

On its own good slime, a trail,
A test for following, the field

That was once left fallow, and
Now fallow deer feeding

On the leaves at daybreak,
Day once again broken, so

Broken that even the night, in
All its kind darkness, couldn’t fix.

Layoff, shooting spree, free spree; advanced rotting, spree of laughter; settlement, hope’s bias, cut the cloth on the bias; lay off, bender, spree, advanced rotting, distal, blossom-end rot; phyllotaxis, arrangement of leaves on a plant stem; opposite, alternate, whorled, spiral, the latter maximizing exposure to dew; zazen: “opening the hand of thought”; Maxfield Parrish’s Daybreak, Winona Athletic Club; koan; Harmonium remaindered by Knopf: sold 100 copies; “Explanations spoil things,” Wallace Stevens  

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