Poetry / March 2015 (Issue 27)

Two Poems

by Joshua Burns


Awhile man would like to be out of herself
and certainly be unable to find Wonderland’s door.
A vaporous trail then maybe catches her by the nose
and feeds her deeper into the snail shell’s spiral.
           —Mascha Kaléko, "A Part for One, Caterwaul"
           (Translated from the German by Joshua Burns.)

Copying kanji justifies my scatter-brained
dash to make do just what the day forgets:
with all this wind, the house sounds its pain
of dissipation, neglect, denouement that rejects
the solace a neighbor might graft and mean.
He thinks no one on the block studies elf
speak, as if that would be anything but zany
anymore. Into the fictional horizon projected
my most personal things, a stretch of filth.
Awhile man would like to be out of herself

like the mouse that encountered the Hindoo,
a pal so utterly committed to the transitivity of souls
that he hunted down a sorcerer, this guy who
La Fontaine, the original teller of this tale, wools
nary a stitch in his yarn of much ado,
so that the rodent become one more story-
book woman (see Helen, Andromeda, Medusa).
Over an act of such karmic steerage pools
not Amaterasu’s light; the magic man would tour
and certainly be unable to find Wonderland’s door.

But let’s, for a sec, get beyond all that evil and good.
Mostly the dark side holds all the luster, perforations
in a moist plastic bag dense with sac, shuck, brood
- I get virtuous just rhapsodizing on its infections,
delirious for the ten thousand things not mine to protrude,
supine on the off-chance. So much hair dye flows
you would have thought a chemical plant went noodle.
Swimming in the Auld Lang screwballs my meditations.
Let us begin all over again and who knows?
A vaporous trail then maybe catches her by the nose

and from that portal for air and innocence
the leaves, loose on the trees, may fly,
the trees may waves their arms (in a sense),
the high-falootin’ gates may get all quivery,
and Ginsberg lead the inexperienced offense.
Those wretched, bum Beats were last to seek the All.
I’m talking big, White Whale game, so ‘ee or I
have got to make embarrassing, immortal friends.
Is the point from which one embarks final
and feeds her deeper into the snail shell’s spiral.

after print by Tsukioka Kōgyo

Have you heard this one? Boy primes the closet
until mother enters interrogatively and triggers
mouse trap. The devil’s place is closet:
put the good stuff away in the closet,
walk about the streets with puffed-up chest.
Dada, that infernal movement, closets
an origin that warms the dark closet.
Riddles acquire air of crazed nocturne
when the hands revolve an old, known nocturne;
I think this one, said Tzara, ’ll cut up the closet,
towering scissor minds tossing scraps up into blue.
So goes the aquarium’s top unscrewed and blue

applies its gently pressed stem, showering blue
as if there was not enough to put away in closet.
The tide must not organize into skies of blue.
Cut to black. Hey buddy, got a Q, blue
and kind of downing for you: what triggers
the mind to interpreting all that blue,
blood vessels unseen, as eyes of blue,
jardiniere or garibaldi on chests
holding down the fort (a chimney as chest
to home unguided, a month for dolls blue
but never lonely)? Mechanic nocturne
shakes loose the living, breathing thing, nocturne.

Clockwork girl, she plays excellent nocturnes
until her fingers are powdered in blue.
[No pool cue insert] the beastly nocturne
pummels out of piano a nocturne.
I turn, then I turn again. Sour closet
flaunts an odor, henceforth one more nocturne
to terminate all love for word, nocturne.
You plead it’s not a bundle pack; trigger
can be pulled without inciting trigger,
which means one need not turn to more nocturne.
Have you not learned fallow is my soul chest?
Keats might have written “tender is the chest”

and this would make my products owed to chest
long dead but vampiric as the nocturne,
swooping in here to dandle. “Hold your chest,”
she commands, “lest he precipitate chest
to burst. Then will out spill on marble blue
aliens to make the skin crawl.” Such chest-
ful, a real collop, should fire a chest;
however, my delirium closets,
tucks away with skeletons in closet.
I think I hear, in the home some flat-chest-
ed thieves. The happiness of the trigger,
something is happening, pulls the trigger.
Website © Cha: An Asian Literary Journal 2007-2018
ISSN 1999-5032
All poems, stories and other contributions copyright to their respective authors unless otherwise noted.