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May 2, 2013 Poetry

Four Poems

Phil Estes

Four Poems photo

Everything is All Right

Then there’s the Schnabel:
Some colors and Adieu,

Which makes me think: kind of

My sister looks closer at the Schnabel
She smells the paint and says “tobacco.” 

“Everything else in this place is just a bunch of heads.”

Like I said, remember: I never knew
What was good.

“Adieu means you will see them again.”


Alexandria is in the basement with my mother
Looking at the Pre-Columbian art.

I’ll say
Will be a misnomer but

On the jug, they see
The doctor holds his hands up over the children.

He does not cross himself, he does not
Cross them, they’re left

Alone, their mouths
Still have tongues.

So we’re all okay.

Also, there is a mask of gold
With the eyes pressed flat.

And a story, carried by my mother:

“When the Monks came
They didn’t let them eat quinoa.
Go figure.”

I can’t “do” justice
But I want to.

The Romans are all upstairs

And the Venus has a stray,
Broken thumb on her breast. 

Everything is All Right

I got this butch painting for my den
Because that’s what I am into,

But Alexandria: she sees the Safarist

Standing over the old ruins
And she says: “What’s so butch about this?”

Well, I only saw it for a minute.

“It’s not even a creole.”

My strong tooth broke today
And I rub my tongue along the ridge,
Which feels complex.

Did I tell you the story of me watching

Harakiri and knowing

I am more like the boy
Who would rather bite through his tongue

Than the guy who crashes the fresh armor down?


I don’t want to schedule my passion
But I am so tired.

The ghosts of rotting deejays and coaches

Look closely

At the painting; they look closely like they see
A Gaugin.

I can still smell them even if they’re ghosts,
They speak as a chorus:

“Time to turn in
Your man-card, son.”

Coach always turns my clocks fifteen minutes fast,
To Lombardi time.

“Isn’t tradition just the best?” he says.

The ghosts always say, they never ask.

Everything is All Right

Wait for the audience’s

In the strip mall parking lot
Before I go to work.

Some etceteras undermine
The task of work.

I hope no one knows me.

I’d hear the customer’s violence
Or their camaraderie;

One showed me his collection of women wrestlers.
He was a good guy

Even though he wore a black cowboy hat
In Ohio of all places,

In Dayton or a suburb of Dayton.
I worked out to Colin Powell.

“You’d be surprised who’d sell you
A house.”

In the strip mall parking lot after work
I’d talk about Saddam

To a friend:
“We should depose him because

I can get out of Dayton, Ohio, easy
And the Airmen only play kickball in Basic

And my father slept with Okinawan girls
And watched samurai movies.”

Is it zeitgeist still to talk about this?

I can’t figure it out
Because I walk under Oklahoma’s trees

And I wish, just sometimes,
A branch would fall.

Your burger palace is burning,
Your burger palace is burning but that’s okay.

You got insurance; just don’t tell
The adjuster your brother slept in the back.

What’s left?
Jobs and three Halos and maybe two small Halos,

I don’t remember.

“I didn’t go to Iraq.”

There I said it.

All the dead cicadas
We had to brush to the curb

Are not a metaphor. They’re just dead cicadas,
So cool your jets, cool them

And look across the parking lot and wave
To the guy you’ll really know in nine years,

But be polite.
You won’t like his music.



The Poet carries
A polished lute around town
For posterity.

“What? This old thing?”

His wife always sits in the front row

And he always swears
At the wrong times: “Here is a list of shit

I like: Number one: Help who don’t fuck up the drapes. Am I right?

Am I right?”

I smile nicely
And nod my head when The Poet speaks of The City.

Alexandria jerks-off the air,
Blows a raspberry, when The Poet speaks

(she isn’t tired).

“Why do you hang out with him?”

Once me and The Poet drank cognac 
And went to the woods, where he tied a boy

To the poplar.

The Poet lit a firecracker,

Then another, then another.
I pretended the fuse burned me

And I went to the river.
I try to avoid his calls,

But when Alexandria isn’t around I get bored.

I tell her later:

“Christ, I am trying, I am trying.” 


image: Andromeda Veach