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Four Poems photo

Being There

Describing my body is easy
because I do not know what it looks like.

From above, I imagine my face
when it experiences a thrill.

There could be more to what I’m looking at
than wet lips and the freckle above my mouth.

I guess my skin hurts a little bit.
The marine weather forecast is playing

in the background. That’s nothing new.
I get you on the phone for practice.

“My face,” I say, to hazard my place in a quadrille
with you and you and you, “makes the shape of commitment

in the moment you have asked me
to describe.”

I am deepblank as a lake when you take my face and when
you turn it into a hot new arrangement of what is Dasein.

I am interested in mortality and why it sounds like a gong.
I have been living happy with this pitted brass on my tongue.

In the past, there were chairs in my kitchen
where we could have enjoyed ourselves in many ways,

and a drawer where I kept wine corks if the texture excited me.
There was wallpaper with grotesque flowers of every kind.

There was counter space for the radio that played the marine weather forecast.
I have been thinking about looking back forever.

What It's Like

The electrical component of our world deals with disappointment
by getting my attention. I am suspicious of
mink, stock markets, weirs, estates, cargo airplanes, concrete ditches:

I failed to think of these things at all
in the last day and so I did not dream of them.
Instead, I have been thinking: if I ever meet the President,

and if it still fits me, I will wear
the clothing I nearly removed for you
and I will probably carry a hairbrush in my purse.

When I close my eyes and look at you
you get bigger and bigger instead of receding,
the way you should, to a point on the horizon

that is surrounded by the timber-shaped
forms that approximate your obligations as far as I understand them.
I am sicker than a wet jigsaw puzzle about the inconsistency.

The only thing I can do is get involved with searches.
I look for everything from bronze age tools to reliable cookware,
but when I close my eyes you fall on everything like a childhood rain.

Level One

My soul is in the starlight lounge, pounding back
what he feels

He has been there every night this week, working his way
through the years

I hold his hand against my head like a cold blue cloth, annexation
he can’t resist

At the jukebox he dreams of filling me
with clean nickels

I stand in the doorway of the empty starlight lounge, looking
at my soul

Who slips the nickels into the same grooved track
so many times

I climb on the bar and raise my hands
to my mouth

Stop it quickly, I say, before he has a chance to do something
I will like

General Mills

What I want is in the freezer aisle
in the supermarket at night,

the old store where the freezer lights
are always on, not automatic. The speaker

is broken but the music is playing in another aisle.
It makes the woman’s voice sound like underwater propaganda

from a dictator’s elegant wife.
The glass is fogged on one of the doors.

Somebody has been looking
at the pancakes and frozen fruit.

There is a fingerprint on the glass,
bigger than my fingers.

There are bins and carts between
the freezers, full of discounted things:

vanilla crackers, hams, marbled bouncy balls,
sliced almonds, can openers, and two liter cherry soda.

I don’t want any of it, but I should.
Once, I would have needed it.

I want to know who was looking at the waffles and
pastries, and if he has a son,

or if he eats breakfast sweets himself.
He is in the parking lot now, sitting in his car

with his two hands on the steering wheel,
listening to the radio, his windows halfway down.

He is going to go home in a minute but not yet.
The music is good and the air is warm and moving.

He wants to feel good. He was in the freezer aisle
at night, shopping in the biggest country on earth

for cold little things to heat up
in yellow boxes.


image: Aaron Burch