Chris Martin's book, American Music, winner of the 2006 Hayden Carruth Prize,
will be coming out next year from Copper Canyon Press. He is the editor of the
online magazine Puppy Flowers and lives in Brooklyn, though he originally hails
from The West.

I Am No Proprioceptivist

Sometimes when nothing
Happens the world feels terribly
Sincere, the gloom

Unsettles, its heaving cape
Perforated by dazzling
Banalities, just to stare out the window

Conjures children to go out squealing
Over the half-obscured remains
Of a bird delicately sprouting from a snow

Bank or a man relieving
Himself into a trashcan delicately
Placed in the trash, it is too

Ontologically wondrous and likewise
Disconcerting—to be a thing, to be a thing
That is, that organizes other

Things into its own harmony
Or discord, sitting on a found sofa cluttered
With posies, contemplating The West

And her talking horses when out
The corner of your eye something rises against
The crisp blue winter sky

And you assimilate it, allow it
To manufacture in the peripheral
Coloring that inquires

Eye to word to ear—bluebird, bluebell,
Bellbottom, and so
On, unraveling, a sea of cyborgs

Proliferating endlessly only
To end up jump
Cutting as one man lusts

After a curve and there are advertisers
Clamoring after its import, objects looming
Into our very selves, but this

Is no news to you, you
Live here every day, there are fish
Swimming and your hands

Have touched them, impossible
Notions have come to you as simply
As breathing, you don't fear

Your own sun, that which
Nurtures and browns
You, or you do, it terrifies you

Every morning, so it is with our minds
They make us these things
That are, and as such we stand

Apart from them, ladders interrogating
Half-curtained windows, I have
A trophy from coaching a girls' basketball

Team and it pleases me, the Atlantic
Is somewhere relatively close and I think
Of it rarely, as I did

The mountains of my youth, so you
Can tell I am no proprioceptivist
A fragile thing giddy at its own interior

Movements, the wet way a finger
Knows its duty among the twittering
Of its counterparts, I carry

On, my legs do, I see no point
In letting them talk
It through, I am within no

Winsome casing, if my mind wanders
Around this airy apartment
My body does not transiently

Abide, it directs, and so I affirm
The radio waves, Otis
Redding, even the stupidity

Of traffic, give me a pane to spy
Through and I will reflect
The world in its dubious elocution

Of forms, I don't have time
To rub my own eyes or
I have forever, a natural disaster

Strikes and all the animals survive, can't you
See what I'm saying, nobody is going
To give you permission, planets will go unnamed

Woman will bathe, unprofitable
Beings will suffer terribly and smile
All the same, if God has to

Die so does jazz, all I'm asking
Is for a comely child to wrap
Its hand around one of my fingers

At the end—it will know what to do.

The Asymptotic Approaches

I woke to the laughter of a friend from
A dream of life
Caught in the balance

Between teleology
And the moment, in which spires
Were merely sideways

Horizons and so the sky
Was an infinite
Instant carelessly looming

Above our heads, this is why sexuality
Is not a reflex
, the intentions
Of a cloud wait patiently to be

Coupled to the eye, which in
Touching the newspaper relates to me
Partial things, my friend

Ben tends to shake
Superfluous things from the tips
Of his fingers, this car

Things like an immaculate
Animal at the far
End of 16th Street, for

My ear has its own crass
Manner of making phantoms
Of beauty into

Familiar symbols, I say the earth
Is not unfriendly, the end is not always
Deadly, when the desert

Closes one in
Its alien
Throat and discloses

Its whispery valence the sun
Leaves his perfect
Shadows strewn like capes

Upon the dazzling
Promiscuities of America, I pictured
That on the side of bus

Bisecting Park Ave. as the song
Sang men make sense
When they prevail
, I make

The bed, turn on
The light over the turtle's
Head and catch the 6

Uptown, tonight I will register
The pornographic
Constellating of smog-woozy

Stars, but here the man
Daydreams with his fading tattoos
Peeking from beneath white

Sleeves and a previous
Occupant has left a crossword
For me to complete, pen

Jabbing my thigh, my thought
Distracted by its asymptotic
Approach to reality
, we are never

Quiet, never quite
Free from the hallucinations
Of meaning, the feather

In the hat of the woman is not even
The limit of her
Body and as it stirs within

The passersby, I say to myself I
Have made your body
, the weather says hope

I get the wind right
This time
, Hiroyuki Doi says suppose
Every creature is a circle that exists

In this world, how many of them can I draw?

Grandpa Was A Salesman

It's the day the day
Everyone else is vacationing
At Fire Island, the gleam

In the glasses of the thin business
Man peddling Duracell AA's
From car to car, coloring the inevitable

Thrill I feel being
Surrounded by insolent creatures
Daring someone to fuck

With them on their commute to the dreary
Sonic lassitude of burned-out
Church skewering the horizon or a wall

Map gone secretly
Glue under the cramped corpse-light
Blue of an airplane bathroom

The sign of the defunct
Psychic persists, a distant foal
Stammers, stamps, and who

Is responsible for crowding the world
With such a cowardly delirium
Of thoughts, the soft focus of death

Rifling each tacky eye
Of the passersby, I am mired
In these pithy forensics

To which such contagious
Dreams gravitate, I like
To get stupid with my friends

To get nostalgic for the remote
Future that never was
In the dusky resettlement

Of chances, Ben wrote a poem
At age seven about a robot made entirely
Of panthers, yesterday I

Squeezed my bicycle past
A sleeping man meticulously
Wrapped in Mylar

Balloons, this is a study
For a larger ancestral
Portrait, this poem was actually

Purchased in Beijing in 1890
For a handful of silver
Fillings, I used to sneeze

Constantly until I had my braces
Removed, my dad
Tore his off in a practical

Response to poverty, you see grandpa
Was a salesman who drank
Half-a-dozen Coca-Colas every

Afternoon, his mother had twenty-two
Children, three sets
Of twins, many died, as did

She, before she was fifty, before
I was born and it strikes me
That every person in every passenger

Seat in every car in
Every town in every country
Is having some goddamn

Thought—this is mine.

Flouting Determinism

We eat afternoon
To bones in
A metropolis where ghosts

Are always hungry, their vivisected
Steam-plume quotations
Coddled by racket or carved

Into disappearing paper
Snowflakes against the charcoal
Doors, all these

Memories pass in
The way veins
Collapse, little bruises

Surfacing on twice
Exposed film, I do not wish
To wash the fingerprints

From my thought nor burnish
An age made rough
By understanding, I imagine the cat

Dreams of a fluttering
Hand in a lush
Leafy darkness, when I was

Twelve there was nothing
More pleasant than the startling
Ping of crab

Apples hitting hoods and here
I am disheartened
By the flat, arid music

Of Western Imperialism
, its accord
Looming, the epiphanies
Gutted, but all parts are not

Pieces, the eyes close most
Often to open
Upon the diminishing

Grandeur of amputated scenes
Those that ebb only
To bare the imperative

Quality contained therein, one has
But to walk the deserted
Halls of a museum to know

How much life these portraits
Need gathered about, how much trouble
Resides in the definite

Mind when our best defense
Against terrorist attacks is to be late
To work
, my love

Loves me enormous and the coincidence
Of these emotions dispels
Dogma in the same way it spells

Out a burdensome absurdity, my sister
Fears the introduction
To her book will cast a wraithlike

Pall over the remainder but
I appraise her
Of certain things:

1) all well-intentioned beginnings
2) wander in the hope
3) of flouting determinism

The wolfman weeps
Half-conscious in the unfinished
Suburban development

As here in the botanical gardens
The turtles stick their necks
Out for sun, and my god if the turtles

Stick their necks out why not we?

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