Bluff as a Theorem
“Indeed, this world is flat; as for the other, nonsense.” —Jules Laforgue
My blood girds up, and that knucklehead, my heart,
says its two words over and over. This filibuster
of dark and light and dark again just doesn’t stop.
Now I might swagger the front stoop, bluff
as a theorem, taking my empty hands for proof
the world’s full, trees trembling all down the street,
birds steaming. Wind slugs through the heat, flattens
paper to the fences. Every window liquors up with sun.
Maybe I could stagger a sidewalk all day, scared
and mortal, lighting matches one by one.
Wouldn’t I cower like I’d proven
the world truly flat, blood riding my veins like a bus route?
(originally appeared in Bluestem)
There Is No Place That Does Not See You
You might change your life
based on dream dictionary
abandoned in Laundromat,
coloring book-size paperback
fished from utility sink,
splayed on folding table,
pages wavy as voice patterns
or antique window glass
but meanings plain
as air the equals sign
between all things,
then name your childhood
a long crawl on dirty floors,
a single red sock
fall the same among T-shirts,
playing jail with empty basket,
game show oohing
in steam and soap heat,
all the mothers, yours and others,
tapping ashes into cola cans,
one calling her children little
monsters, little bastards.
(originally appeared in Upstairs at Duroc)
Self-Portrait with Spoiler Alerts
In romantic comedy I must adhere
to wacky codicil in will
demanding astral levitation
and dating psychic phlebotomist.
“Hello, hello,” I wave and yodel,
then wander farther yonder, calling,
“Pick me,” direct dotted-line object
of the zombies’ outstretched arms,
leading economic indicator scruffy fringes of their shirt cuffs.
I dream I watch Andy Warhol’s “Sleep” in 3-D IMAX,
poet John Giorno snoozing giant for many hours,
and wake festooned with popcorn, lap soaked with cola.
As if light were altered by what it touches,
dirtied by glancing on gutter water,
then traveled scattered, smudged,
I’m already nostalgic for what just happened,
endlessly reminiscent about each prior instant,
flickers on outskirts of vision,
those iffy, flimsy instances
ceaselessly expanding, factor by which flashback
content increases in each subsequent sequel.
(originally appeared in Linebreak)
“All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling.” —Oscar Wilde
Feeling forgiven, then forsaken,
feeling painted by Francis Bacon,
gauzy, raw, meat locker frozen.
Feeling ill-lit, feeling darkened.
Feeling hidden, feeling shrunken.
Feeling muddled, feeling forgotten.
Feeling the feelings that feel fallen.
Feeling hybrid of monkey, donkey.
Feeling pack animal down to least molecule.
Feeling floppy as seahorse on sawhorse.
Feeling looming disarray.
Feeling victim of mind-body struggle.
Feeling each morning the tired quarrel,
all fours along floors feeling my way.
(originally appeared in New Madrid)
Aaron Anstett is the author of the collections Sustenance, No Accident, and Each Place the Body’s. Two chapbooks, Allegorical Woodcuts and The Next Thing You Know, appear this summer, and in 2014 his fourth full-length collection will be published. Most importantly, he is the husband of Lesley and father of Molly, Cooper, and Rachel.
Author photo credit: Molly