Saturday Aug 19

SkinnerJeffrey Jeffrey Skinner's play, Down Range, had its debut production in New York in Fall of 2009.  Other of his recent poems have appeared in such journals as Slate, The New Yorker, and Fence.   He teaches at the University of Louisville and in the MFA program at Murray State University.  His most recent collection of poems is Salt Water Amnesia.

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Kafka, Women

 

We went to buy furniture in Berlin. When I am kind,
Felice approaches. I fumble for the door. I suggest the axe
of marriage. This illness, feeling its way inside me.
Heavy furniture that looked as if, once in position, it
could never be moved. Grete, come to
the hotel, we will make plans. There's never this kind
of trouble at the brothel. Without my head
I would not be lonely. But it is so crowded, knocking
at my skull. Felice, I am ruin. The sideboard in particular—
a perfect tombstone, or a memorial to the life of a Prague official.
Do you love me, a little? I can obey everything,
except what is demanded. If during our visit to the furniture store
a funeral bell had begun tolling in the distance
it would not have been inappropriate. How can I write
amid the noise and smell of human bodies?
The dress you wear in my mind is disappearing.
Still I cannot see you with clarity. What have you done
with your gift of sex? Disease has taken up residence,
soon there will be no room for Franz. I yield not a particle
of my demand for a fantastic life. Marry me, Felice.
Save me. Leave me alone.

 

 

Heron at Dusk

 

Something composed of lengthy angles glides above
The lake then lands in tall grass shadows to walk like grass
Bending, and hunt by throwing the spear of its head.
Who taught predation such jury-rigged grace?

I follow him following, a game of pick-up sticks
He plays with his own body. I can bear landscape
Only a little before turning back to my species
At the language mill. But his stark eye is patience

Tacked to the air above back-bending legs,
Hushed dot, wordless vacuum. I come closer. Listen,
The only man-like creature in this salt marsh is man—

I am like a man, but so partial, so full of words.
Heron eyes me, then lifts in sections, like a last minute plan,
Until the impossible body smoothes into flight.

 

 

Diplomacy

 

I get up to turn down the trees. A man
from the Middle East speaks softly from his forehead mouth.
He says he admires my soul patch, and reaches to touch it.
I don't think the glory will come for me today.

If all of us jumped up and down
I think we could nudge the planet a few centimeters
from the sun. People need to cool out. I like the look of a hook
and ladder truck, ladder fastened to the side.

Is it just me, or have all the UPS guys
shaved their heads? I can only see through these rectangles,
everything else is fog. The idea was to extract some sweetness
from the air, from the spaces between branches.

God left us way, way too much to figure out.
Small fires of consternation sometimes boom into glory, yes.
But most begin and end with trash,
cigarettes, anger, inattention. Let's use the ladder

to make a listening post in the trees.
We'll have bald UPS guys scurrying up and down
like man-sized ants, delivering supplies. It'll be loud up there,
a greenish whoosh, like money from the Islands of Qatar.