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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Revanche, or Passing for Twenty-One

We had by that time loved the rain,
Wet miracle of cloud, on us at night
By the dark lake, as we prayed once

Again to Our Lady of Perpetual Hard-
Ons, our T-shirts crusty with beer,
And the cave of lake water into which

We would disappear: Goes the Body,
Goes the Body, Goes the Body. We had
All once drunk Tang, whether

We were astronaut-spangled
In starlight or in an ordinary hot
Kitchen, wracked by morning, sleep

Like stillbirth, still in us. That could
Be 1967, a “Sour Hour with Head
Over a Galvanized Pail Behind

The Garage.” We still have that painting,
Still hanging on a nail in the dust
That has its own dominion. When we

Stank of onions, when we hiked until
We ran out of Viceroys, when we
Weighed little more than south wind,

When the bed of the pickup was
Undone, nearly rusted through. We had
Wanted love of any sort, pontoon love,

Or love in a hollowed-out log, even love
Sawn in two, or love in the barber chair,
Pumped up, spun around, buzz-cut

Believers. We were in swarms
In the graveyards, the dead never
Reeling from our salutations, we were

Limping with laughter, nighthawks
In bracken, so precocial we never
Needed feathers. The short flight

We were on, the car ride and
The cakewalk, the action of the In
And the action of the Out. We grafted

This moment onto that moment,
Never having meant to change
The life-light that flicked a gold

Chrysanthemum shadow on
The water. We were drowned, all
The while singing the Suffocation

Blues, sodden with age, unseethed,
Struck with how straight was
The ruler, the entrance overarched

To a new life, the old one beaten
Down, thin as a spit of gold, still shiny
In the water at the bottom of the lake.

Recipes for disasters; captions for cartoons, the indifference, the reference, the fence; the dumb side of random, scale tipping, the weight of the wind; dirigible of desire, blimp of blame, the flame blame; self-importance and the artificial heart; sad streaks in the pound cake; if mum’s the word, what’s mum? Chrysanthemum: gold flower; fast break, Katyn, why did Stalin stop at 20,000; suffocation blues, tango and DNA, deaf and dumb; cadillacking, hoist point, public address, undressing in public; not the same as immortality, goes the body, the sour hour; piss elegant, recipes for dictators; root, enough, cèpes, idiots, prayer bound, eeny, meeny, sure; funny bone, the rude, nasty!, tetchy, tacky, an inferior horse; Emily Dickinson/George Clooney; the price of fame; dropped, revanche, tachygraphy, back to black  

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