Tasting Seneca Wine
Eventually the women have left their husbands inside
to better watch as my friends strip and race naked
through the raw grass to the winery’s gazebo,
a flimsy effort to win a bottle of wine.
That’s the first one I’ve seen in years
one woman says to her mother
as the men cover up and pant. If it wasn’t
the only good day in March I might be worried
about my length someone answers, while Kylie, the neurobiologist
who has breasts definitely, rolls drunk beside me down the hill
toward the distant Seneca. The lake is not so much a finger
as an unlocked ear, listening, and March is all lambs
while I use my eyes with Kylie, who I want to put my hands on.
It seems impossible for the gazebo to hold
that much light, to wilt so badly
under the dissolving moment, but it does. Inside the winery,
my friends offer mock marriage proposals to each other
with rings fashioned from throwaway wire, hoping
to earn another bottle in celebration. There is too much
to understand, like a kiss from a stranger in a dark theater
as the on-screen heroine traverses a haunted house,
delirious with mystery. Above the bar, two flies dance
into worse states on the golden flypaper, but outside in the grass,
Kylie with me is every bit a waterfall,
and my fingers are unstitched and ringless.
Poem Hostile to its Reading
David says language won’t save anyone. But look
at that obvious thing going on outside.
A woman in a cream-colored dress
adjusting her hair in the reflection of a car window.
Painters refresh the chipped line of lampposts
with a new coat that seals the whole avenue
in an aura of sour ether.
All I know about gardening is the hard bulb
of the daffodil, buried like a casket.
Can I say melancholy? The whining airplanes around
and above me are melancholy. The things
I am not supposed to talk about are melancholy.
Imagine—liquor in tiny bottles at thirty-thousand feet.
It’s the sea star without its thumb.
Next week a meteor the size of Delaware
will pass within several hundred miles of Earth.
The behavior of cats and dogs may be temporarily
affected by the shifting magnetics. Suicide rates are expected
to fluctuate by as much as 50%.
I am always a little sad
when things are used up. Words, like people,
are more comfortable
when they are together: rosewater,
dovetail, moonlight, bloodstain.
Andrew stops by to show me a poem he has been working on;
I am so cosmopolitan it is suffocating.
A line of sheep goes in one end of the factory
and beautiful music comes prepackaged
out the other. Nobody asks
what exactly happens to the sheep inside.
In Connecticut there is no crime, the river
of the same name that flows
through its center keeps its men and women fertile.
I drink alcohol for its medicinal qualities.
The blinking sign on the overpass
advertises winter weather advisories,
traffic delays, and I love you Meredith, will you marry me?
Everything would be better if someone
would just hold my hand for a while.
There is an island in the Indian the most vibrant fish are making
their way to in order to die.
Put your net in the water once and you can eat for days.
The moon does not speak. The moon does not
say anything. There is no rhetoric,
to it; there is work to be done.
Marcel is explaining to me how
the young women of New Hampshire
exude a particular Southern Belle quality and I agree,
although I actually want to tell Marcel he is full of shit.
So you see, language is just waiting to save us all.
A Species of Inventors
First, a middle of impossibility.
Confusion pulling upward
from an indistinct sinus in the gut. Then
an initial crawling out from the cave to see
the wet forests heavy with deer,
herds speaking the language of crushed leaves.
An action of discovery, like a peach bruising
from the pit outward in a soft hand.
Ravenous, they must have taken stones
and invented the arrow to kill the deer,
dragging the carcasses into the house,
the cave, which makes the sound house
if you listen. Clothing then
discovered from the skin of the deer, bread
from the blood of the deer wetted
to crushed emmer and cooked
inside the deer’s body. Striking
bones together, they invented music.
Music honored the glad voice of fullness,
both in belly and in hand. Using blood
and charcoal they painted themselves
onto the walls to become obscure from these actions.
Thousands of years later, a Spaniard
invents the guitar by tying sinews
shaved from deer tendons to both ends
of a club and plucking them.
The inventors of the piano spend decades
calculating the number of hammers and strings
to put into their war machine before its first notes
bring their enemies to tears.
DUNCAN CAMPBELL'S poems have recently appeared in The Crab Creek Review, Dukool, El Aleph Magazine, Tinderbox, and West Branch. His chapbook Farmstead, Fire, Field is available from ELJ Publications and a second, Joysong Demarcation, is forthcoming from Tree Light Books. In addition to an exhausting day job somewhere near Lake Champlain, he co-edits poetry for the multi-genre print journal Paper Nautilus.
READ AND LISTEN
Issue 10 Playlist