Three Poems by Scott Keeney
or Poem Beginning with a Line by Andrei Codrescu
The aggression of health is badly understood
at the beginning of any century, another day,
another hundred pushups, a belligerent crusade
in solitude, crunch and lunge and jog in place,
sit up and fly, lift and curl, back row or gazelle
into a swinging lullaby, a shadowboxing fiend,
as if the lie didn’t begin inside the body’s tamper-
resistant microprocessors: the barnyard swoon,
the brickhouse jump, the raison d’être stomp—
be that burning tiger in the exercising eye,
don’t cramp my trustful reverie: it’s just the lie
in anything, bright blue padding to break the fall,
oh, let’s make this personal. I believe in the açaí
of intimacy and the the celery of taking pains
to tell the ones you love you want them bending
backwards, arching saintly. One is completeness,
the other, finality. To be that blood pressure
dynamo, to be that amber-gold billowing, to be
the wind screams, the candle hands, the glancing
blow originally known as a phantom hit, to bite
down the shoulder, the ribcage, the neck, to rub
the small of the back with cheek and tongue,
to open, to close, and to take the drum down from
its place on top of the bookcase for future children
who can’t even on tippytoes quite yet reach it,
those healthy turnips, those legsmacking jamboree-
thumping, tower-racing timebombs of tomorrow.
To breathe is to levitate as to live is to swallow
and to take one by the hand is to launch an attack
like a broad spectrum antibiotic, Levaquin flesh
bone and blood, a neuron’s constant instant
messaging capability, an urgent inquiry
to the off-shored body, What happened? What was
that? What else to do? Scattered nutshells,
obscure space, love finds us in The Butterfly Café,
daring us to order the peach yogurt smoothie
as we shift like pronouns under avocado breath,
a conspicuous sense of self so hard to shake
it’s easier to tussle a lion’s mane, a hot and noisy
icy reticence I don’t understand, a walking away
and grinding a tooth and for all intents and purposes
praying at The Gold’s Gym Library where the mind
sweats and a tamperproof screw comes loose.
Note to self: it’s garbage night. Driving home
in my thirteen-year-old black Civic stuck
behind a flag-red Cherokee with SEXWAX
boobies!, whose o’s are nipples, a peeing Calvin
decal, and Love it or leave it guarding its chrome.
A Lou Reed moon, meaning low in the sky,
It’s following us, my kids would say, It’s a spy
in the house of love, I think, humming the tune,
moving from the memory of one sixties crooner
to another even as NPR reports on Obama’s
drawdown plans designed to bring thirty-three
thousand troops back home from Afghanistan
by next summer. Political performance pieces
contra prophets, pawns, and prostitutes; know
the ideology and there’s no need to watch
the play. Tempered empire of obsequious
economics, soccer chick awakenings, and shock-
and-awe soul, did you receive your engraved
invitation to obsolescence? The light turns green.
I have an arrow. Can’t forget it’s garbage night.
SEXWAX boobies with his Connecticut Florida
plates, listening to his Garmin, takes a hard right.
Three quarters of the world believes the sky
is the equivalent of a thumbnail image
for some other more glorious mysterious thing
as if that were possible. This is progress,
O Massachusetts, like the individual mandate
for health care in America. The Louisiana Purchase:
you’re pulling my leg! How did Ted Berrigan
finagle that one? Now there’s a conceptual act
that tickles my crack: sign into Wikipedia and replace
the references to Jefferson with Berrigan’s name.
You can praise my genius later. Just try to do it
before I percolate into the catholic sky.
There are arbitrary cut-off points that make sense.
The rain, for instance. I’ll tell you why...
Oh, I forget. Oh yes, because the end is always near:
that’s what my billboard would say. But send me
your money anyway, is how it would continue.
O Kansas, I am putting my billboard up in you!
You don’t have to have a dream to go to school
but it helps to know the score. That’s just a saying
similar to Shit or get off the pot or In the published city.
O ancient future, you who know the storekeeper’s longing
and the locksmith’s hardened gleam in the eye,
let me snap one of the genetically modified raspberries
from your sky, chew it like a consonant
and spit it out like a vowel
over and over until I realize the toothy stridor of being
and this love like tumbling down the stairs into a suit of armor.
Scott Keeney is the author of the chapbook Sappho Does Hay(na)ku (Sephyrus, 2008). His poems
can be found in Court Green, failbetter, New York Quarterly, and Poetry East among other places.
Copyright © Mudlark 2011
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