C. Dylan Bassett is a student studying poetry in Las Vegas, NV.
His work has been featured in The Portland Review, SLAB, Literature
and Belief
, V Magazine, Inscape, and elsewhere.

Miscellaneous Plastic Lids

A cluster of them, not random but rather
shaped like the states. A shipping container
brimming with goods
manufactured in China. Glossy
gizmos, plastic bins, electronics of every
make. This is a most quiet
seduction: The thrill of lights, or the tip
of touch screens. This is the ash, I thought,
the crust crumbs, the eggshell, the ice
shavings: Or maybe the chokehold, or knot
of a heart.
A project of slides: Rubber
soldiers. Rocket ships. Toshiba televisions.
A downpour of jack-
hammer-looking squirt guns. The children
eat everything. They bark and bounce
with piggish clamor. They romp
in the plastic dark: They toast: A celebration
to whatever has come
and gone of our common country.

Meditation on a Box

I admire the tape still wrapped 'round the flaps,
unripped––this unbroken brown, whole and sharp
with right angles. The steadfast mystery
of The Big Dipper. Such is the insistence of everything
unfinished, the impulse to open our own
bodies. To take apart the heart and replace it
with a portion of the frontal lobe. Look at all the books
like dusty butterflies, or the strange rows of modest red
houses––each a quiet casket collecting air, each
a god-absent pandora. Places of unripe plums, peach
pits, by which I mean beating hearts vamped up
like jazz bands. What will it take to make us
whole? A baby's alphabet block? A perfect oval
to fill the hole in a birdhouse? A knot of stitches?
Or a wish? Knock on God's door but do it softly, not with a fist
but with the edge of a page. Your loud
bang, they say, is overzest and can't unlock any locks.
Ditto your skeleton key, your litany. Even
birds turn jilter to hornswoggle us. I received your package,
pried it open with the sharp side of a keychain. What I wanted
was proof of you: A loose limb, a fingernail, a speckle
of flesh. What I got was the same
road map, only half there. I would have to fly to see it
whole. Are you listening? Yes. For such is the conversation
with crickets: to confide
in clouds where for all we know God is
a crate created by our fathers with rust and barbed wire and,
of course, nails. How lucky we are
that our crowbars cannot reach
those distant places!

A Group Of Gay Men Catcalling

At first, I think of my mother, who
said Shut your fucking mouth
to a group of fishermen as she jogged past them
at the beach. This time though, I don't say
anything. I nod, I half-way laugh.
How can I protest their catcalls? I have
made up women in my mind wearing skirts
hiked up beyond their hips. I have
poured Jack all morning in proxy.
We cannot deny the body
the things it longs for: The predicament
of stone: To know the warm tongue
of touch like a quiet song
only the skin can decipher.
For so long I have carried myself
carefully like a mother covering
her child or an old man taking on
the task of stairs. And somehow, something
other than my outer self envies
these men––the way they burn and melt
into puddles of flesh. They dance
on naked feet. They hymn
in this, our most tame wilderness.

A Still Life

When we live in this republic
of perfectly edited objects, everything
is aeronautic and ankle-deep: A soap dispenser, a coat
rack, a cast iron cookie skillet, the order
of my forks. Is it any accident that I left
my notebook open to a certain page when you called
to say you were coming over?
Or the crimson of my mother's living room?
The sybaritic squares of those Goudiesc
chair legs? These games are games of deranged
arrangement: Look how well I imitate Cezanne with this
table and fruit bowl boasting grapes
and oranges all over a cream and ruffled tablecloth.
Everything has a share
of ghosts alluding to our collective mood: Broken glass,
a ridiculous stack of magazines, a staircase
saggy with footprints. I can go five years
and not think of you, until suddenly I catch
sight of an old sock, or a button, and I become
a stranger in front of my own mirror.
We tell stories in our own absence:
a dangerous handkerchief, my childhood
piano out of tune or a small child's
balloon lost
somewhere in air.

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