Nate Pritts is the editor of H_NGM_N, an online journal of poetry
and poetics, and is the author of three chapbooks of poetry, the most
recent of which is The Happy Seasons, and it is currently available at
www.thematter.net. Recent work can be seen in the Southern Review,
POOL & Forklift, and online at TYPO, storySouth & DIAGRAM.
As the party winds down we take turns
clubbing the dolphin piñata -
with plastic sword, with silver broom handle -
exactly the same way some she
once slammed her channel-changing heart
into mine, dopey & complacent,
but instead of candy what spilled out
was eight months of slow-time,
instead of confetti making the real world bright
there was a crumbling erosion of the self,
one thousand thousand tiny pieces.
For weeks, scatter. I'd like to look at a leaf & not
remember, to feel a spring breeze & have the option
of a soul temporarily dead to all that implies.
In a vast room where twenty slim doors lead into
twenty rooms, you can bet I'll open the right one last
leaving a series of startled occupants & interrupted
musical notes in my wake. The green bug is not my ache,
the eruption of weedflowers not my untended
Straw man - the leaves inside you are dead leaves.
To me it's always a question
of where? or when? but now
I'm wondering will I make it in time?
someone is walking upstairs
singing "Ha-pee Burth-day" to me
all breathy & vampy.
What's most appealing
is the childlike quality of the design,
thick lines connecting
two points simply because they should,
like a question of faith,
answered. I said, I thought I'd sleep
on the couch, trying to be gallant, trying
to keep from jumping
out of my skin & she said Silly rabbit.
The separate areas created
are full of bold colors, broad
strokes of solid red, blue, yellow,
etc., but there is no pattern, no way
to predict what comes next
in the sequence. If we get what we want
it just might kill us but I know better
than to wish for something lethal.
The overall effect
is of studied simplicity; it's tempting
to dismiss the whole thing & pretend
it never happened.
Then there's the late night
knocking, the unexpected visitor.
She said six of one, half-dozen of the other,
a shrug to show she didn't care.
This one red leaf
that I pinched off the waist-high bush branch
as I walked the sidewalk path
at exactly the same moment as my eyes fell
on the empty green iron bench
made me think of the profound lonely screams
of empty benches everywhere
& everywhen, causing me, bursting, to reach out
to grab whatever was in reach,
this one red leaf absolutely the softest leaf,
of any color or season,
ever to be plucked from the branch, ever to be held
between two clumsy fingers,
scrutinized & caressed, called memory, rolled up
& called blessing.
How Little it Matters
How little we know, clueless
walking blood pumps,
attendants at the organic filling station.
Faith is my fuel, brute desire
sloshes around my tank but alas
the gauge is desperately low.
How little it matters, our misty & inaccurate
accumulations. We have found
no entrance to the four-chambered heart
or to its tarnished flipside
the almighty head. If it's true
there are two sides to every coin,
that everything mixes up with everything,
then why should we be surprised
at these howling mongrel lives of ours?
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