Martha Kreiner



Please join me at the automat where cartons of milk
salute us from clear, cold doors.  If I perceive you

to come willingly, I will pilot you
away nonetheless.  September began with a canvas

of choke thrown over the late kitchen
and several collisions with a panicked dog

after I invented a smoke machine in three
minutes, using just one microwave bag

of twirling popcorn and a few steps
into the other room; thus, the carpe diem.

If I had a nickel for every crawling towards you
every levitation.  The daredevil isn’t knocked out of me yet

I am unprepared for today’s menace.  I have no menace
spray.  Instead, I smell of internal battle

as I run into the brief and fizzing rain and martial
the dog around tight corners like a drawn carriage

while calling to mind all I know of treatment
for smoke inhalation and waiting for my throat

to close.  If, later, I let down my smoked hair
I mean it intimately as a note I slip you

during this friendly holdup.  I take
the next morning’s air and the absence of flash

pulmonary edema as a signal to love you
in a limitless but sudden way, much as the willow

sweeps the grass with its branches, less a decision
than a blowing alignment.  Except

for the identical suits, I know nothing
of military strategy.  (I insulted a marine once

on a very small dance floor.  She had a muscular
wink and I was careless.)  You see, I want you

to make an end-of-the-world candlelight agreement
with me because how else the candlelight, how else

the agreement?  My dog is a harlot for the koi
and slinks at the pond’s rim, dipping her lunk head

towards them like a bared shoulder.  I keep being selected
for these internet surveys.  My answers are yes and

more.  I will be your guidebook.
Let me begin by explaining hands: your eyes

are the sparkling gadgets of the head.  The air
is sponged with sunny pleasure; it’s just the one palm

low on the back I’ve been hoping for.  The sky
is a giant sofa I want us all to sit on at the end

of summer.  I will take our photo with my long arm
out in front and the lake behind our hair

pressing into each other’s hair.  Pinch me
I must be waking for the benefit of all.


after Frank O’Hara

We shall have nothing we don’t want and there will be no more malice
in the bunkers. When I say bunkers, I mean the fathers’
flossed and sneering mouths and every car ride
with them, ever. For our symbol we’ll take intermission
the lights flickering in the lobby. In every hand a paper cup
of salted nuts or wine, the united windup for prolonged and furious applause.
We’ll need a logo. I propose the bumper-to-bumper spiral down
the parking structure, that wild automotive embrace we can all now look forward to.
For a revenue chart, the periodic table. When the fathers grow bivalent
again, begin their faultfinding disguised as financial advice
we can rapidly identify a neutralizing agent. It will be something soft
like copper that can’t be corroded and conducts away heat.
One night for dinner Dad told us kids line up
oldest to youngest, I’m going to give you a choice:
confession versus bare-bottomed whipping. What little asshole
scuffed up my tires? Those snow tires are brand new. I work hard. We lived
on a gravel road. The early yelling will fade to a pretty
incomprehensible noise we listen to for company on long drives
like a favorite radio program we lack reception for
in and out of the mountains. Let that be our anthem.
The memory will still coalesce like the accumulated smell of cooped-up breathing
overnight. But when the whole neighborhood throws open
its giant windows to the new morning, it will clear easily. Gone
will be disdain. Gone will be temper mixed with flirtatious affection and more
frequent lack of regard. There will be just the one dismissal left.



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