Matt Mauch


Through a clearing in the tunnel of trees
along Warren Avenue: a view. I become the one
formerly walking. I forgive the view, address
the ode-worthy sun: O sun like an old sun god retiring,
why do you insist that first thought’s best thought
is God with a great big G? And why do I listen
in this awful heat to a sun that begins its message to me with
To Whom it May Concern, sun sending generic
advice for deciphering the cadence of my heart,
which has climbed a hill, is now at rest?
I wish that the sun would begin with Dear,
that it could do so without exploding,
that prior to dispensing advice it would ask,
Is there an extra sandwich in your tote bag
that you’d be willing to share with me
for lunch? I feel like ice enclosed by glass,
like disemboweled light, a bad marriage
in a painting painted when paintings had laws
against divorce. I ask the sun in the wispy voice
of cloud, Is it okay with you that I’ve filled
the plumb of my mind with a boy I call
a sun-god seed? I can feel the boy working
the pedals and flaps that maneuver feet, distribute saliva,
churn stomach, pout lips, can tell that one day
he’ll earn his freedom. I kick a small stone on
his behalf. I pity the boulder a glacier destroyed
to make it. O sun my sun, I’ve failed sincerely
at bequeathing praise, am too consumed
tallying ways to be reduced, ways to make one
think one has risen, ways I never want to be.
Like a lobbyist, I’m unable to advocate
for anything other than this station of my heart,
dumb as a statistic, thinking my mind’s a place
in which the praiser who would be praised
could fit. At the top of a hill, with all bottoms in sight,
I’ve reached the same end as the owl I caught
once in a leg-hold trap, caught it because
the owl was hungry, it tried to pluck a muskrat
struggling in its own leg-hold trap, tried to do so
on an island in the middle of a quick-flowing stream
set with multiple traps, which wasn’t unwise
based on the surface of things, but for the owl
was unfortunate due to things that lurked beneath.
It’s the same demise reached by the man who never
naps, who finally succumbs to the urge on
a hot summer day, when his work’s done earlier
than expected, not anticipating that the body
in retaliation for the napless years
will counterbalance the dream of dreams
he dreams when he finally sleeps (on the old couch
in the porch, shoes on) by breathing so slowly
that he forgets it, this mother of dreams
he remembers dreaming in which he had it all,
knew everything. Hey, sun, did I ever tell you
I make my own water in my mouth? I do it
routinely, and at will, and when I have a surplus
I spit.



O moon, my moon, unabashedly,
and only I would be able see your hand
when the scolders ask
how many of us count with our fingers.
We’ll be talked about
after we say, Shorter days, have you noticed?
when what we mean
are days with a lot less light.
Same way a bawling child will either cease
when its stroller is rolled face to face
with another bawling child, or will cry
in concert with the new voice, you know exactly
what I mean beyond what I’m actually saying
when I say sometimes you hope for nothing
more than soft yolk in your eggs, and you end up
with a perfect cup of coffee, too.
The best of us have bad stretches
in our souls we cut out
with butter knives. We attach ourselves
to colostomy bags full of the beautiful,
and by us I mean we two.
Because you remind me of the beauty/
solemnity/ immensity/ veracity/ temerity
of cloudless and cold winter nights
cloudless and cold winter nights
are the last vestige of a vengeful God
I’ll make the gesture of a survival-prayer to,
my fingers crossed, speaking gibberish, pretending
I’m speaking sweet nothings to you.
Tonight, in front of the TV, ironing wrinkles out,
trying on my warm shirt
makes me apple or cherry filling.
It’s taking forever to find our song,
ruffling A to Z through the all the record shops
in my heart, the one in my stomach, and
in places that carry paraphernalia
at the edge of town. O blithe,
makes-me-rucumbent, loosens me,
improves the odds and bearing-shifts,
restrictionless example to examples,
unsarcastic and never to be confused with a snake,
too and never brisk enough
moon, circling like a shark, how I wish
the tongue in my ear were yours.



Shadows late in the afternoon
speak with a southern accent, dialect
of the tree as it grows out of last years shoes,
performs its silent musical
based on the life of John Keats. The sun
speaks a dying language,
consequence of willy-nilly
taking the life of border crossers
ditched or lost in deserts. All this talk
like the simmering of a crowd
which will disperse
before it asserts
its will. We’re happily married
to the incomprehensible, sharing coffee with it
twice a day. Someday
we’ll dress in shiny leather, read the invitation,
plot a fashionably late arrival. None of what happens
after would’ve happened if the kiss
hadn’t been so good. We were surprised
that the taste didn’t last.
We kiss the ground and flowers,
walls and fur, our tongue like a brook
going low spot to low spot,
over rocks, bringing and depositing
sediment, which builds up, provides
desirable land for growing,
for building domiciles on.

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