Track 28, 2:45 pm
The instruction manual was etched in glass
and made a sound like a mouse or a dreaming
woman making small squeaks in her sleep
when you ran a fingernail over her parent’s teeth.
Her parents adored her and it showed
in their well-faded jeans and moisturized palms.
They all smelled of coconut oil and sandalwood,
as per the instructions. As per their understanding,
suffice it to say chemistry textbooks have many
excellent images for making collages, which is
why she failed the class but won at compiling
spray adhesives. All the while, this mystical
being was ensconced in a wondrous world called
“what New York had become.” Which is why I am
a principal in Atlanta. During recess the dogwoods
did sway in the wind. They did sway and I did
sway. Thank you for coming in this afternoon,
Mr. and Mrs. Buncombe. I sorely appreciate
your children and your pie. There will be a day
when you forget my name, but I’ll be dead by then.
I Have Hitched My Wagon to a Star
Here, I’ll explain it to you with this white board.
I’ll mount it on a Show-Go-Round and make it revolve
when I have another lesson to teach you.
The kind you can sink your teeth into, as per your
email sent to me on 4.2.14. And I quote:
“There is a plausible heap in the works,
that’s why I am committed to the worst in you.”
You will sing another tune when you learn
the truth of our situation, how I’ve tied
myself to you and tied this suitcase to my
wrist, as per your email on 4.12.09. And
I quote: “I can really talk to you, you know?”
On the other hand, there is nothing but blood meal
to consume in this cramped apartment, that and some
stewed carrots with rice (I know you love that).
Thus are we are tied to each other. Thus do we wander
through the desert. Thus is some inexorable third entity
tied to my wrist, dragged along with us. Do you want
a smoothie? Would you like an afternoon alone with
200 messages? What is “beyond unacceptable?”
You always understood me so well, even that time
you asked if I was a replicant or a star being from
outer space like Jeff Bridges in Star Man.
But as I explained that fateful day: I get my news
from cable & my wine from Trader Joe’s. I am
only too human and fallible. Don’t tug on the rope, dear.
On the subject of human finery, he could talk for hours, which made us uneasy as he rifled through the remains of each survivor’s belongings.
Quest for Consideration
My quest for consideration began on a damp
bed. I knew from the smell of the room that it was
a Saturday. Sometimes you want a drink first. Other
times you find yourself crawling through it
all stone cold sober. You or I, it’s all the same.
Did I ever mention The Rolling Stones in a poem?
Exile on Main Street is a lovely record. One of us is
Mick Jagger to the other’s Marianne Faithfull. I mean,
it’s possible Mick has had his heart really broken once or twice,
but you’d never know it from the way he moves his hips.
We have no photographic evidence of our time together, save that one picture of you looking stunned at the border. You always were so fussy about your papers.
Keep the Dream
In it, you were watching giant robins
stomp around your yard like thugs. Spring
again and time. Faulty designs of rare hope
spring up from the ashes. I’d rather stay
asleep. But that’s just another justification
for idealism. Sprig of parsley, dash of salt,
soon it will all be over.
Gaining a Purchase
I forwarded you a quality of life list. Let’s brainstorm because sooner or later a bird makes a
delightful meal for the workers. At noon, we’ll meet in the circle to work on value-added vision
boards, after which the servants will bring in cucumber sandwiches and tea. They have been
instructed to control their gazes. More importantly, the servants are required to maintain an air of
objectivity regarding the prudish ineptitude of not only the citizens, but the material desires of all
involved. We are spiritual beings having an earthly experience, but not all the members of the
team are on board. Patricia has promised to meditate upon the question. Robert is going to throw
some psychic energy my way to see what sticks. We should adjourn by 12:04, when we’ll be
treated to ocean vegetables and a fermented red beverage made from firm ground. See you there!
TODD COLBY (http://gleefarm.blogspot.com/ Instagram: @toddjcolby) is a Brooklyn-based poet and artist. Colby is the author of six books of poetry. His most recent book, Splash State, was published by The Song Cave. His writing and art have recently appeared in The Believer, Bomb Magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, Denver Quarterly, Dizzy Magazine, Hyperallergic, and Poetry Magazine. Todd Colby photo by Tara G.
Poet, essayist, and artist JOANNA PENN COOPER is the author of The Itinerant Girl’s Guide to Self-Hypnosis (Brooklyn Arts Press), What Is a Domicile (Noctuary Press), and Crown (Ravenna Press). She is also the author of the recent chapbooks When We Were Fearsome and Wild Apples from Ethel Zine & Micro-Press. Her work has appeared in the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day feature, as well as South Dakota Review, Zócalo Public Square, the tiny, Posit, and other journals. With Jessica Mesman, she writes about art, film, culture, and melancholy moms here . She lives in Durham, N.C.