Christian Hawkey/United States of America
(USA) is the author of The Book of Funnels
(2004), and the chapbook HourHour, which includes drawings by the artist Ryan
Mrowzowski (2005). In 2006, he received the
Kate Tufts Award for The Book of Funnels
and was given a Creative Capital Innovative
Literature Award. He lives in Ft. Greene,
My chest is a kind of topsoil
it always slips off in the rain
it has drawers for every insect
I tuck my head into my sternum
a rapid beak nibbling is the
most efficient form of preening
there are glands in my cheeks
I know nothing of how they work
although I am drawn to rubbing them
against the tips of car antennae
fence posts the end of a big toe
often I bite the skin of my arm
and let go the indent is a circle
of books my skin a shelf
submerged in the air it marks
the border of an island
how happy for the land to have an eye
a string of islands is a beautiful sight
the ocean uses them to spy on us
this puddle just winked at me
Donald doesn’t like me anymore
his chest is in my teeth
he reads me to sleep at night when
the wind floats the house out
from under my skin into the stars
eating so many holes
in the island the sky the weather
a sweater falling apart in my hands
We exchanged looks—all three of us—
& mine was totally better: it had rose-colored sequins
glued along the hemline & the word sneezeweed
in one pocket & an open window
with the sound of cows ripping through spring grass
filtering through it. We were filtering through it.
We were filters. We had to use our tongues to remove
the pollen collecting in the corners of our eyes
which were oversized, slightly joined, lidless.
A squirrel mounted the bottom of a drainpipe
& waited there, expectantly. It was kind of sexual
although Morty observed it was “just a rat
with a beautiful ass; in fact, in the original Latin…”
We exchanged looks again & this time
blond women in gold lamé jumpsuits
handed out birds with brand names
sewn into their breasts. Their beaks
were frozen open. I’d never seen a bird pant.
I threw it up into the air but it
dropped softly to the cement
so I stomped on it—I don’t know why—
such is the nature of instinct & the
vertical surge of skyscrapers, porcini mushrooms,
the invisible teeth of lichen, sinking into a stone,
how blushing is one part sincerity, one part stupidity,
the clarity of a line of drool
swinging from an infant’s
glossy chin… From such a distance
it was hard to tell why he whacked the side of his head
against the air. He paused, & even the dogs paused with him, listening.
Wait a minute. We’re not finished with you.
We were discussing the Indefatigable Ones
at a time of Maximum Perforation and Wonders,
the bodies of crows plummeting earthward,
stiffly, thudding onto your porch and you,
you were wearing your Silence Helmet as if it
were a crown, as if it were a kind of prayer.
You can’t pay attention to this world on your knees.
And desire isn’t a tin can taken into the woods
and shot at; it’s a tin can shot to hell
and swallowed, piece by piece, while a crow
laughs, bouncing through the limbs.
You were checked for explosive residue.
You spread your legs. You emptied your days
into a white plastic bucket. You removed your belt.
You removed your shoes. You removed your heart,
a fistful of shrapnel. You were asked to step aside,
you were asked to step outside, onto the tarmac,
onto a plane—you were being deported,
although no ships were within sight.
And the others that were with you began
to hold hands, began to stammer a song, whoso
list to hunt, in the bee-loud glade,
drowned out by turbines, shifting metal flaps,
along a grid of lights the plane taxied,
it made a right and kept moving, it made a right
and kept moving, it made another right
and kept moving—you never left the ground.
You were growing old. You started families.
You had many children. You call yourselves a nation.
This is your flag. It will fit in your pocket.
Thank you for the coffee. Can we go now?
One was tied to a fence post, bawling.
Another was little more than a smudge
left behind by a forehead resting
on a pane of glass. A third
was traumatized, during childhood,
by a water pick, while another formed
a deepening fetish for the rudders
of submarines. One had a blood-shot eye,
one eyelash left, while another poem
was a cell phone, hurled into a toilet.
One poem was arrested for excessive
public prayer; another,
excessive pubic hair. One
fell in love with the word “prong.”
One was a necklace of living bees.
One moved like a grasshopper
trying to outrun a lawnmower.
Another bushwhacked in the nerve-factory.
One spent the entire poem holding,
out of boredom, a socket wrench
up to its eye socket, while another
argued vision is a kind of invisible
suction action. This particular poem was unable
to pull its eyes away from the TV.
This poem had a round, golf-ball-sized hole
in the back of its head. This poem the light
shining, when it sleeps face down, from that hole.