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January 3, 2017 | Poetry

Two Poems

Nick Narbutas

Two Poems photo

The Fountain

Ellen you died & you took art w/you
yr cheeks turned oily and gone
once I dated a girl w/"good is dead"
tattooed across her chest she turned out to be right
but not the way she wanted to be
I don't want to be a tree when I die
I don't want to be the failed embryo
branching my blood vessels toward the earth's
shit-hot magnet where its heart should be
& the earth is going to die in our lifetimes
“our” in the general humanitarian sense
what a useless thing to think about now
as the hole they carved out of yr breast
yawns & swallows what's left of you
Inès wanted to tell me about death
& I said no
wanted to know what to do if illness ever & I said no
Ellen I have no duende
Ellen I have no hope of speaking w/you now
b/c I ran away from death
b/c there is no art in yr absence
there is only the shit-hot magnet
in the mouth of Damien Hirst
crying as he pays his team to paint
GOOD IS DEAD
LONG LIVE GOOD in bird shit
all up & down his chicken shit body
people now are claiming
you can take the world exactly as you found it
& call that art
& maybe so but that doesn't make you the artist
no one wants to accept that the best they'll ever be
is a mere audience participant to the world but Ellen
Ellen when you died
you tore a hole in the earth
& every bird unlucky enough
to fly over plunked its body down
Ellen you made a heart where the dirt should be
& everyone keeps saying painting is dead
but it's everything else that is dead
& I don't know why but I thought that would make you laugh


The Graves Stand Tenantless

And the sheeted dead beat their chests
in the sallow moonlight. Be gentle with them. Gentle
is a thing that keeps graves hungry. Gentle is the sound
of an oxpecker dipping its beak in the wound
of a wildebeest. Come gently to the lip of a grave,
what do you see? A hole that fits
just about anybody. The sheeted dead bump into each other,
desperately pump their jaws, trying to grind out
Oh excuse me on what’s left of their tongues.
Don’t feel better than them. Don’t disgrace yourself
by pitying them as they fondle a garbage can
calling it Son? Son? Throw a rope ladder down
the wall and you’ve got yourself an in-ground tree house.
Bring some colas down, a flashlight, the collected
Calvin and Hobbes, make yourself small again.
1998 again and the moon makes a sound like
a wildebeest dipping its tongue in the river. You
are squatting in the mansions of the dead. It’s alright,
it’s alright. It’s 1998 again and you are learning to be
gentle in a human wound. God is a yellow-billed oxpecker.
It’s alright, son. God is an oxpecker and we
are not the wildebeest. God, be gentle with me.

 

image: Aaron Burch


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