For Conceit

Don’t say Polka Dots & Moonbeams.
Don’t look it up on your phone. A phone
is for talk:

the wall that grew into earth in The Echo Chamber

sent off to residential school at seven
came home with the wrong mother
tongue all red wine from conjugation drills.

Our insurance lapsed. False negative on the test.
When the fog turns mist and rise from the swamp it must.
Everything is This Country Must—pull all the heartstrings, sister.

Is it enough to believe the lover received the message?

The squirrels applaud,

bobbing scut or cheek acorn full, cracking bad dad jokes,
while shredding corks with a ride’em mower.

Enseada

(a little sheltering port or beach in arched formation,
more open than bay, not necessarily opening to the sea like a gulf)

From Malouf Rock to Turtle Nest Cove not saying much
deep in morning translation low waves raised thoughts
sun beat through the cloud cover reflected in the sand bank pools
certainly helped connection or lack of depending on the chosen

speed to live by what rules beyond lunch we sunk a found umbrella
deep into the hard sand almost a claim by now full to fat beached
our whale bodies feel salt dry on tanned hide a man passed selling
what looked like sponges looked like he’d walked all the way from Pará

another planet even further or were they shellfish or were we to him nuts
or even another fruit we’d never seen before or never see again too tired
to ask his smile a thousand peace naps all tooth and patience a knowing
we’ll never know even though we too walk well looped back to dunk

and plank every few minutes thousands of metres the sea butter melted
hotter than our shared youth but with more time less ambition no desperation
to describe yell far too loud yahoos into the evening storm approaching
from lookout point as if everyone wouldn’t come to this bucolic conclusion

all by themselves without map nor tool nor clock nor someone loving to talk to

Where Shady Lane Joins Ivanhoe Lake

I planned to read all the books in the house.
I planned and planned a lot of things.
My mother says a lot is for cars.

Books like autumn leaves. No Miles Davis is autumn leaves.
These are crushed owl wings. Open on a kitchen table.

Open beside the tub and bed. Beside the toaster.
There are three ways to make coffee here.
French. Italian, American here. Quantity over what is good?

I’m a sucker for a simile. Take the easy way past the truck-stop.
Pick up a slushy for the road, neon blue gallon, twenty Lucky Strike
Click Menthol. Clean under the thumbnail, beg forgiveness at pump.

Hitch. I bet Shostakovich never cut corners. Research required
notification buttons badges banners, be clearer. Be everywhere at once.
Swallow SIM card before crossing border.

Questions slouch in the last pew. Slip out before the casket.
Visit the stone when nobody’s watching. Are the nails still growing?
Have the worms absorbed the hair yet? Don’t slip into command mode,

caps lock, priceless apps, vibrate ringer off.
I can’t get my reading glasses clean enough. Forwarded forewarned
job postings. I’m asking the taxman for clearance.

Highfiving the Spanish Moss under downpour,
Mr. Good Soaker, may I call you torrential?

10 Comments

  1. Jonathan Cardew

    David,

    Oh my goodnessssssss.

    This was a wild wild ride through [what country/countries?] and a journey into the outerstretches of language. I just have to pay particular praise to the last stanza:

    “Highfiving the Spanish Moss under downpour,
    Mr. Good Soaker, may I call you torrential?”

    This is absolutely brilliant, and these flashes of surreality course throughout the poem, a surprise a minute, a delight a minute.

    “The squirrels applaud”–yes they do indeed and much more besides.

    I felt like my head was getting rewired as I voyaged along your sentences!

    HOW ABOUTS:

    Maybe you want to play with it, maybe you don’t. I sincerely hope that you do! Some thoughts:

    1. I wonder what would happen if you carved out and kept only the most sublime bits. Shorter might be sweeter–might frame the very best like “Hitch. I bet Shostakovich never cut corners.”

    VENUES:

    Have you subbed or pubbed at Cafe Irreal? I feel like this piece, and a lot of your work, would be a great fit there. Here’s a link: http://cafeirreal.alicewhittenburg.com/index.htm

    This one will stay with me!

    Cheers,
    Jonathan

  2. Len Kuntz

    Hey David,

    Holy crap. It’s difficult to find the right words for these. Brilliance doesn’t seem quite good enough. There’s so much to admire and dissect. These should be taught in an MFA program.

  3. Al Kratz

    Yes yes. These f’ing move. I planned and planned a lot of things and books not like autumn leaves but like crushed owl wings and high fiving the spanish moss. High five for sure.

  4. Rogan

    David, love all three of these, but especially the opening negation of the first and that poem’s close: bobbing scut or cheek acorn full, cracking bad dad jokes,/while shredding corks with a ride’em mower.

  5. Georgiana Nelsen

    David,
    I wouldn’t begin to try to offer commentary on these beauties, but i can tell you these lines made me smile and want to move to their rythm, and that’s a lot. Thanks.

    “our whale bodies feel salt dry on tanned hide a man passed selling
    what looked like sponges looked like he’d walked all the way from Pará ”

    “to ask his smile a thousand peace naps all tooth and patience a knowing
    we’ll never know even though we too walk well looped back to dunk”

    “Visit the stone when nobody’s watching. Are the nails still growing?
    Have the worms absorbed the hair yet? Don’t slip into command mode,”

    G

  6. Benjamin Niespodziany

    “These are crushed owl wings. Open on a kitchen table.”

    These poems are so full of visuals and redirections and sidenotes and detours and whirlwinds! I read them in a flurry of images and it felt like one of those viewfinder slideshows. I’d love to see how some of these pieces appear stretched out, where a stanza is only 3-5 words, really give these tiny moments some proper space to breathe. I feel like whole worlds exist in these three poems and it’s so great to see.

  7. Robert Vaughan

    David, these are separately all monumental, whole worlds, whorls of delight. Random, yet entirely cohesively not. SO inventive. You make me want to write poetry IMMEDIATELY as only stunning, and independently unique, remarkably fresh words often do. Now I want an entire collection of DOC poems. Please?

  8. Kristin Bonilla

    Just so much gorgeous stuff here. So much. Those owl wings!! These were a pleasure to read.

  9. Martha Jackson Kaplan

    Hi DOC, Another wild woven ride with words; grief weave, weft reads, turquoise water blues, tidal rhythms running in and out, salt water, fresh water. World words. Beautiful again. Gracias.

  10. John Steines

    Hello David. I read this backwards first, then top to bottom. I do that to remove my need to be logical. I sense a word jumbler, & I’m looking for three poems combined. Solid content in an out.

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