Co-winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize
VIOLENT BLOSSOMING CITIES ASK HOW TO HEAR THE SONG
Infected in the language with feet on the flesh-
colored linoleum floor, white tulips growl to hold
our crisp momentous maker
fully cocked and loaded,
a crash-test monument to the lion’s handshake
that resembles people of showcase persuasion:
any trauma is an order for us to come to terms with
immanence or the tuxedo of divorcing action
that can test the bound limbs of a diffuse-but-mercurial-present.
That is why death has been cancelled:
there is no legitimate innocent event. Hear,
her claw tooth vibrates off the dust of your wig
and voice bends into your ear.
Doubt colored our economy thus,
a certain dance style lighting echo-chamber feet
to an end akin
to cruise missiles launched at Belgrade,
refugees at unknown purpose,
with impacts improving the songs of the 40s
but no further out, casting
a backward glance into pillars of swaying salt and tinsel.
Few wish the light wouldn’t hide there alone.
From a post-perspective, the leather lashes teach us
at the same time we know now
that just as the first world roots in the third,
the third world robots the first
with fecund glitter and fool’s rival gold.
Tribalism will not mouth us apart any time soon.
Centrifuge yourself. Rather, inescapable
will play backwards ahead, conjure Lady Self
and turn trapped transparent
at the behest of the foggy tongue soon enough.
If easy listening, then inescapable sounds.
Either the artist argues or consequence wins.
On occasion, death is a diagnosis,
if this loss will take us anywhere
towards an uncomfortable truth or
some version of performance.
Nausea-with-flask recuperates a cast-iron skin
in pearly grays and smoky thin
as we move through the human heyday
of feeling superior to long-shadowed sirens.
My, how her reach has grown.
Like gunpowder aches in the calyx’ eardrum.
The mothball prisons mislocate the necessary funds
to acquire leisure-time or the ability to walk
for everyone with balding canes across dance-hall
floors with coccyx love to ride around on.
We could be climbing the vines of a Bonaventure Inn,
eyelashes laden with postwar resistance.
It is here, then, that the transition condition
re-sounds the remnants of adolescent
power pains in instant cities like Baghdad.
Hip, disposable and pure off-muteness default
an architecture of hairs-on-end, suicides-beyond,
heads-up-Daddy, phones-on-top, how bleach and guns
rub the cells clean off, chainsaws smelling
of blood-based colognes and an urban land of people-into-disco-
sticks, engines of their streets closing down
unemployment: expensive shots of ageless whiskey
and single-slot meals pour down the franchise gowns
whose stories tell, “No one aids the spider in Teflon.”
Not one dress, for or against, not one town.
Shock and still installs protective rigor mortis
of another star-is-born, who so earnestly believes
the sacred springs green envy and the dolls of youth
turn brittle as the doves of war
melt onto the shield of pleasure versus method—
all based on the fountain’s goblet full
of a wild colt’s dissolving ink,
sheathed in a nest of sequins. The architecture of how
things come to be proves mostly unable
to escape the marketplace, so why then would you
want to be like everyone else? What then is else?
A cape of laughter howls at character culture.
An irrepressible diary veers toward omniscience.
The hermit bands join the highways’ abyss.
And cultivation of react and resist births a snake
in the theater of Joshua tree, moving certainly among us,
whipping her lasso and smoking her apple
full of happy gashes, delivers her crepe of music-
pocked silence, until the lasting breaks
the horizon’s egg into oxygen-blue, our saddle full of excess.
THE CRONE IN THE HICCUP OF LIGHT
How she brings odd cousins together, ties ends
in loose knots and evaporates the scene is a magic
I wish for children in hard rain.
She is as cavalier as a broom handle
holds up a skirt that juts from the back of a wood
panel station wagon, a flag to all who follow at leaner speeds.
She is a dream hailing helm to wheel.
Just as wood turns to stone, so do gods petrify
down fast roads. Give us direction, spell out the recipe
for regions we need to breathe. She is not Georgia,
Leonora, Remedios Varo; I am no self.
Our names are mere symptoms.
And though private globules circulate, making the rounds,
the man-made engine of age in every leader.
Her metal hip clangs, energy and time come together,
discussing the terms of the weather.
What does weather offer? What does weather want?
We who make ships move, we who locomote with legs
and arms, who work rudders and conflate engines
with progress, as if one will surely follow another,
we suspect otherwise, and look harder on. We were written on
the eve of Art, on the eaves of Art, and bake community
cakes as follow up. It’s funny, the way we keep nature
outdoors like an envelope between us we mean
to open down the road. With a hiccup of light in a pasture
her recipes gather, words stay with us on loan,
invisible as the oasis one hopes for beyond death’s lapel.
In a hummingbird’s heartbeat, as lean unseen conditions,
the world itself remains a mask. We thus play turrets,
ornaments, rivulets and sequins on the face
of something dubbed God or universe, and hope
to be pierced by the crossroads, at least. Such is the role
she plays in rotations, with an eye to see more,
melding with everything, so that we may exist in passing.
AND THEN WE SAW THE DAUGHTER OF THE MINOTAUR
Poet, comma. It is thus the delay,
which is also a beginning. That we can link eyes
across her time-space continuum is another hyena.
The female elongates, bares fangs, and a trash
compactor recycles. Hyena gives
in the recycling fashion. Phoenix, no more false
flight from holes; now balloons eating decay.
Hunger denuded us, too. But will you give
up your death for me? With surgery, I outright hollow
the monster to breathe across windows. I don her hollow
whole. She writes back in the pauses of haze.
Her and her tragic magic. We are all cross-dressing
in tiny wings with the machines of bones to go on.
WE WILL NEVER FULLY RECOVER
Because the light resembles marmalade,
the zeitgeist dips gelatinous between our ribs
and makes us speak. My sister is not gay.
My daughter is not gay. I enjoy the war
of this party. My husband’s not gay.
My self is not gay. I will never be as important
to you as your family. Please, more chips & aperitif.
This gathering will be finger foods only,
nothing more substantial to speak the appetite
or test one’s endurance with manners.
I don’t have a dog in this fight; my sister
is post–gay only. I’m merely a gnat sans trench coat
in a small bony space crossing letters out.
The anti-Vanna White. Even if you don’t remember,
you sleep through memory nightly. You sleep
through me and feel your Pinot Noir all the way
back to Napa Valley. Because the total square root
of heat is light that turns a grape
into strains of bottled affection, I hold you
close, stroke your estimations, even before
the growls of this party deliver its host
from the assumption of body. Pull us
into her white-hot affection, and whether we
believe or only gesture the Eucharist, our sex
goes gay for all objects in contact.
My husband goes gay, his nipples get bothered,
my brother is gay, he’s a leg length in bathtubs,
my grandmother’s grave echoes with gay—
her silky epitaph and flowers. Gay is the next
pro-creation, save where the bombs and guns
illuminate people harnessed by fatigues
and futures without pay, futures without gay,
death in an imminent trigger. The unemployed also
party less gay when fairies are unable to boot-camp.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amy King is the author of several collections of poetry, including I’m the Man Who Loves You and Slaves to Do These Things. Of I Want to Make You Safe (Litmus Press), John Ashbery describes Amy King’s poems as bringing “abstractions to brilliant, jagged life, emerging into rather than out of the busyness of living.” Safe was one of Boston Globe’s Best Poetry Books of 2011. King teaches English & Creative Writing at SUNY Nassau Community College and serves on the Executive Board of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. She also joins the ranks of Ann Patchett, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rachel Carson and Pearl Buck as the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the WNBA Award (Women’s National Book Association).
ABOUT THE BOOK (FORTHCOMING, 2016)
Nothing that is complicated may ever be simplified, but rather catalogued, cherished, exposed. The Missing Museum spans art, physics & the spiritual, including poems that converse with the sublime and ethereal. They act through ekphrasis, apostrophe & alchemical conjuring. They amass, pile, and occasionally flatten as matter is beaten into text.
Here is a kind of directory of the world as it rushes into extinction, in order to preserve and transform it at once. Poetry needs no one new party to lead it into the fraying future; if we’re in and of the world, let’s raise a revolution as shapeshifters. In other words, this book is about metamorphosis through a radical cherishing. I am ravished by the world, aren’t you?