Saturday Apr 01

HomolkaMichael Michael Homolka‘spoems have appeared recently in publications such as Antioch Review, Boulevard, The New Yorker, Parnassus, Ploughshares, and The Threepenny Review. His collection Antiquity won the 2015 Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry and is forthcoming from Sarabande Books. He grew up in Los Angeles and lives in New York City.


A stone drops constantly
down through my sternum
down toward its spiritual
basin of granite
or toward my having
overworked myself
and one day waking up dead
(much to the stone’s advantage?)
The stone has got to be aware
because it whistles so
loud down its well toward my
self-centric heart   I can’t
consider anything
other than the stone
It’s a stone in my chest and it hurts
like a sunburnt beach
or a mayfly glubbing through sap
Most charming of all
like anything which harms
anything else   there isn’t
a reason in sight


A man picks up a piece of flint in 1982
at home on his seaside patch of grass
Though the earth still sits in darkness
it is spring and there are turnips
How can your temple lie scattered in ruins
before it has even been built?   the man demands of Jupiter
loafing on the green run where cows graze
Hold on   the god responds   lifting his left
headphone slightly   In a few years
clouds will hardly dare to pass   Gold inscriptions
will flare in the sun   archways everywhere
plinths   inner sancta   neglected statues
eyes glowing and robes painted red
All this without fire   the man
snaps back   which you insist on withholding
Some pillars still reach the height
of five or six drums   marble with even fluting
but most have dwindled to one or two
maybe some portico   chalk white   bitten by ages

The man is sure he remembers fire
that first escalation of feeling
later so controlled   maybe the size of a finger
Torches rang the highest rows
where Carl Lewis broke ten seconds
and the Dream Team posed for Wheaties
over gladiator littered water
riots still smoldering in streets
everyone had thought forgotten
Yes   he’s sure he remembers
though maybe that naked
spiky-haired creature beside him
twisting and untwisting
his triceps tattoos   simply to pass the time
plunged the images into his brain

The earth sits in darkness
The man chews his turnips   flicks away leaves
It is spring   Jupiter has gotten up
and slumped off toward the breeze
flowing over the dry ground
that held his temple once   The man
senses his presence in the whitecaps below
that tempered indifference
scorching his forearms   the back of his neck
There will be fire soon   Bibles
glass displays of caryatid fragments
long stretches of empty highway

Men on the Road

Men on the road have got some stories
They’ve seen Achilles in flip flops
drifting from room to rented room
still vaguely fleeing Poseidon
along the muted Western frontier
Men on the road don’t talk a lot   but when they do
they tell you tales of lion skins and missile husks
strewn across their native fields  
stray shells too   held onto as reminders
Men on the road go sliding their hands
down shorts of adolescent
boys’ whose wealthy fathers
they’ve known for years or met
that night at the bar   They ask them what they
think it means and how it touches
their sense of spiritual identity
I met a man on the road
once and said take your hand away
then said it again and he did and soon was gone
but I felt regretful later   deeply doubtful
Men on the road sense absences
rope-soled shoes boosted from trail guides
exactly perpendicular
with the edge of the motel carpet
as flecks of their own dried skin
collect   Train car still to be ridden
home on ties not quite yet laid
each day’s dust floats back through unlit air
where men on the road overhear
the occasional couple conversing across the hall
Club feet   is all that’s audible
above the gentle TV static   a woman’s voice
like a mother’s or a nurse’s
and a man’s accompanying noises
Men on the road plan their own funerals
imagining music and streams of weeping ephebes
weeping not for death   but for what was
acted upon them once by the corpse
and for the similar urges now straining within
Out on a hillside   (the voices pool
freer and freer)   someone’s kid
was born with club feet

Villa View Drive

Cold house   hung with dark grapes
whose manicured acres
sense I’m a source of displeasure

Bright mornings   live orchids
my father from before   profound
with possibility   or my father

from when I was twelve
or when I was dead   gather in the den
where the stakes of consciousness

have finally relaxed   Over and over
I disappoint   a pollution upon
the rooms full of pianos

Lingering under the creak of the beams
where I can see him and he can see me
my father and I inhabit the vents

jangle the oxygen   disappear
around staircase corners
enacting along undisciplined time

all the hostilities we believe
the spirits before us performed
Dad   I can see you   son   you too

Hallways pool up at our feet   If you want
something from me   if you want . . .
Or maybe just this will strike fear in your heart