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1966
body
poppyromanov
You know, for a world that demands direction, I certainly have
     none.
Wil I be a teacher? Will I go to France?

Really I don't know how smart I am -
and that above all else keeps me working and working hard.

I'm not sure I've got a good mind.
I'm not sure I reason well.

I know I can be as confused as anybody else.
I don't know how I'll do in advanced courses -

I don't know how I'll do on the next econ hourly.
I don't know if I could be a great debater.

And there are a million other things I don't know about my
     intellectual capacities.
Let's leave emotional ones alone tonight--they're in worse shape.

I want so much - to be versatile, charming, warm, deep, intelligent,
     accomplishing something, loving,
fooling around, giving instead of getting, cheery not driven, sure,
     not uncertain, possessing, not anticipating.

Happens to the Heart
body
poppyromanov
I was always working steady
But I never called it art
I was funding my depression
Meeting Jesus reading Marx
Sure it failed my little fire
But it's bright the dying spark
Go tell the young messiah
What happens to the heart

There’s a mist of summer kisses
Where I tried to double-park
The rivalry was vicious
And the women were in charge
It was nothing, it was business
But it left an ugly mark
So I’ve come here to revisit
What happens to the heart

I was selling holy trinkets
I was dressing kind of sharp
Had a pussy in the kitchen
And a panther in the yard
In the prison of the gifted
I was friendly with the guard
So I never had to witness
What happens to the heart

I should have seen it coming
You could say I wrote the chart
Just to look at her was trouble
It was trouble from the start
Sure we played a stunning couple
But I never liked the part
It ain’t pretty, it ain’t subtle
What happens to the heart

Now the angel’s got a fiddle
And the devil’s got a harp
Every soul is like a minnow
Every mind is like a shark
I've opened every window
But the house, the house is dark
Just say Uncle, then it's simple
What happens to the heart

I was always working steady
But I never called it art
The slaves were there already
The singers chained and charred
Now the arc of justice bending
And the injured soon to march
I lost my job defending
What happens to the heart

I studied with this beggar
He was filthy he was scarred
By the claws of many women
He had failed to disregard
No fable here no lesson
No singing meadow lark
Just a filthy beggar blessing
What happens to the heart

I was always working steady
But I never called it art
I could lift, but nothing heavy
Almost lost my union card
I was handy with a rifle
My father's 303
We fought for something final
Not the right to disagree

Sure it failed my little fire
But it's bright the dying spark
Go tell the young messiah
What happens to the heart

June 24, 2016

I Told My Therapist I Tried To Meditate And She Laughed
body
poppyromanov
I can't leave the house
bc I'm invisible/ the landscape
is like really hectice vibes/
I've been thinking/ Godamnit
I'm trying/ to get whole/ I snake
wheat fields/ I'm obsessed
with how people are wrong/
They are ugly and so am I/
I am perfect/ bc I know
everything/ I carry a light
made out of your mouth/
Here we are/ We are sick
but/ we will not be sick forever/
I have three heads/ so
I'm perfect/ snow
at my feet/ Blood
Moon in my pussy/ Anything
good/you can find/ in the dark

my highest ambition
body
poppyromanov
my highest ambition
is to crawl out from
under the wreckage

and laugh at all the things
that thought they could
bury me

Conversation With the Soul
body
poppyromanov
The soul said, "Give me something to look at."
So I gave her a farm. She said,
"It's too large." So I gave her a field.
The two of us sat down.

Sometimes I would fall in love with a lake
Or a pinecone. But I liked her
Most. She knew it.
"Keep writing," she said.

So I did. Each time the new snow fell,
We would be married again.
The holy dead sat down by our bed.
This went on for years.

"This field is getting too small," she said.
"Don't you know anyone else
To fall in love with?"
What would you have said to Her?

New York Address
body
poppyromanov
The sun had just gone out
and I was walking three miles to get home.
I wanted to die.
I couldn't think of words and I had no future
and I was coming down hard on everything.
My walk was terrible.
I didn't seem to have a heart at all
and my whole past seemed filled up.
So I started answering all the questions
regardless of consequence:
Yes I hate dark. No I love light. Yes I won't speak.
No I will write. Yes I will breed. No I won't love.
Yes I will bless. No I won't close. Yes I won't give.
Love is on the other side of the lake.
It is painful because the dark makes you hear
the water more. I accept all that.
And that we are not allowed romance but only its distance.
Having finished with it all, now I am not listening.
I wait for the silence to resume.

Amor Fati
body
poppyromanov
I am trying to understand. I have washed
clean the canopy and set the knives in order.
They lie there on the bed like a ladder.
I let August pass over me like news
in smaller fonts. Over and over I am
caught dumb by my face blossoming
out of the mirror in a drunken language.
It wants to tell me something, speak
its one sentence before collapse.
Approaching thirty, it is becoming clear
a man can make the same mistake
many times, in the same clothes, the same
shiver and clutch on the fire escape,
the same brightness in the white exhale.
How many times did I wake up next to her
only to wake up again. Lately, I have confidence
in laundry. I trust the café on the corner, rude
edges of an old brown book, or the basic
way I masturbate, eyes on the roofline
of a house three blocks away. In half-light
I know what song brings every one of us
here, it goes: refrain, refrain, refrain.
But we will never have enough
of being wrong about the other, not once.

At Times My Body Leans Toward Loss
body
poppyromanov
You don't remember seeing the deer give birth
on the highway, so when I said, I worry about things
I can't control,
you told me the pitchfork
I carry in mind stabs inwards,
                                            like the day was sun-filled, but what I saw
was how I bumped the planter of Gerber daisies
and the moth fluttered up into the beak of a bird.
Death and dinner. A minor accident and something dies.
Like the woman who drove to work crying in her car
and when I saw her, she waved, a reflection in the glass,
the good fortune of having a job to drive to, but the collision
of sadness in the left ventricle of a heart. Who can hold
a knife without thinking for just a second, which vein
                                            is the most useful
to slice into? Most everyone, you say,
as you dull-down the ends of my pitchfork, most
everyone
, you say as you unlock the door to our house.

Something Bright, Then Holes
body
poppyromanov
I used to do this, the self I was
used to do this

the selves I no longer am
nor understand.

Something bright, then holes
is how a girl, newly-sighted, once

described a hand. I reread
your letters, and remember

correctly: you wanted to eat
through me. Then fall asleep

with your tongue against
an organ, quiet enough

to hear it kick. Learn everything
there is to know

about loving someone
then walk away, coolly

I’m not ashamed
Love is large and monstrous

Never again will I be so blind, so ungenerous
O bright snatches of flesh, blue

and pink, then four dark furrows, four
funnels, leading into an infinite ditch

The heart, too, is porous;
I lost the water you poured into it

My Father Snoring
body
poppyromanov
Deep in the night, I would hear it through the wall—
my father snoring, the dense, tuneless
clotted mucus rising in his nose and
falling, like coils of seaweed a wave
brings in and takes back. The clogged roar
filled the house. Even down in the kitchen,
in the drawers, the knives and forks hummed
with that distant throbbing. But in my room,
next to theirs, it was so loud
I could feel myself inside his body,
lifted on the knotted rope of his life
and lowered again, into the narrow
ragged well, its amber walls
slick around my torso, the smell of bourbon
pungent as sputum. He lay like a felled
beast all night and sounded his thick
buried stoppered call, like a cry for
help. And no one ever came:
there were none of his kind around there anywhere.