Saturday, December 1, 2007


Mike Young


Clay in Grandma Claire

Your grandma Claire had a thing for maps
and men from New Mexico.

See here in this picture,
the Halloween party?
She jiggles her punch cup with candor,
but a few absent fingers
hide outside the frame --

there's no doubt, little Katie
those fingers, poised on a globe,
tickled a certain desert state.
Why, you can almost touch
the lizards' wet tongues.

And there is your grandpa Raul

looking sour. He's the raven
in the doily farm:
her family's Halloween party,
for which he oiled his hair
and they offered handshakes
they never gave.

But alone, Claire loved him to tell,
and Raul loved her to listen
of November 1st, Día de los Muertos.

No screaming ninjas
with greedy grocery bags,
or moms fret with caution
over razor blades in apples;

only a long line of souls
drawn down from the Catholic church,
hushed on the clay
with candles and night
to sprinkle flowers and cigarettes
upon the other souls.
Tonight, your Grandpa Raul and Grandma Claire

are just pictures.
There's no doubt, little Katie,
this is clay we visit.
And yes, it is a line too long for maps, but hush:
like us, everyone is here.

We must give them space for light.

*previously published in The Oklahoma Review


YOSAE THIS FROZEN SKATER

Having finished his spin, settled cocked on his blades,
the skater freezes his face for the NBC money shot.

There's that garnish on ham in the Christmas homes
of fathers who wreck rental cars in major cities,

and there's that marshmallow goo over sweet yams
like dove feathers on the rocks at dawn, but then

you have to wonder why the dove did a striptease.
Back to the skater. I knew this dude named Yosae,

who, when you asked him to draw you a dragon,
would light up and nod and sketch the claws

of a wrought-iron fence. Bewildered us kids.
Yosae and his face of baby-piss wit, something

that could shave balloons or sink into woodcuts.
Alone, Yosae sketched the migration of rain.

Having finished his spin, settled cocked on his blades,
the skater freezes his face for the NBC money shot.

There are comas of joy, secrets of dumbing it.
The skater's lids and lips assume a fortress

that has never heard of cockroaches or old lamps.
O dogs, with those moonsick eyes and jittery fur:

we see everything it is to upchuck your deck.
Our precarious aces of perfected moments.

We would nuke a meadow before naming the spice.


WHAT DO YOU OWE YOUR ZIP CODE?

Hey, no smoking
on the go-karts.

We skid stopped past the
off ramp to browse this van:

a cult's old blankets
and off-season Clementines.

That's nice, that bracelet
jingles like a dancer caught

her ankle in the algae.
She is a Viking slave.

Take now, a night hiss,
a slur of proud-ass barns

and the crooked tickle
of satelitte dishes.

Squint for rainy promises
or the rainy promenades

that never go down.
Oh, this is no cello analogy

you weepy motherfucker.
These parking lots

are places to park.
Issac sells safety

razors in the arcade tent.
You may try to barter

with a fist full of
swallows. Let me say

this just this once:
That's a long ass way

from a deal.


I ENJOY THINGS

I'm never sure of anything,
but I enjoy things. Sandals under my
armpits, sloppy feet shot off like
a cynical hippie for the
Viking assembly.
Eight-year old knees can't dig
beige lawn chairs and two hours of
bellsongs that slobber for JC.
Slip off with a bum for the
public bathroom.
He won't notice you're following him
to his thing: a knit night, a tin glint,
stray dogs giving peach trophies
to Vikings with impeccable volleys.
This milk carton on the armored roof:
sure! These sisters with July hoses—
anything, like a need for things.
Chalk up the chewed foot to the
new thing, the stinksong
you can't sing, a slit lip
tah-ding-a-ding, it feels—
wait, like a phone call from a wet bee.


THE BEDROCK TENNIS BRIGADE

Meryle smoked cigars and serves.
Drank gin every afternoon after
tennis in a diner once a train depot,
accompanied by mustache and chums.
Sure, they've not seen you for six haircuts,
but still they laugh you to the service line.
They let the ice melt in their drinks.
Gene taught you a backhand slice
while some president talked of
bigger cleaves. That, that year.
We threw the ball above our hair
and dove--
Do you still care about the lost carts
and river dogs? Vietnamese kids with
their fishing branches and kite frames?
Woodsmoke, shoe dust, chalk water?
You can't hit there ignoring how Gene is
dead. But he isn't, because the rumor
goes that he wrote for George Jones,
and look: he was the only crook-backed
sourpuss with a Walkman. So it's true.
Meryle is to root for Notre Dame.
Roy is to blush at ooooh, Loy! Yee is to
bundle 4ft of veins and few words.
How it spins, hangs fixed
and sheds—

You take a feather off the river
and chew it until you forget.
Meryle, we will never share your
smoke, but here: let's serve to
the Pacific at love-all. Let's toss.
I want to watch the yellow go.

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