Like lattice, jetstream, or crochet yarn
doing what it does, my heart jumped its fence
into the snowy sawgrass pasture. Like croquet balls
malleted through a set of hoops, you explode
with news of luck and indiscretion. Always North
to the border in a hearse, the heart goes incognito
in its poor disguise (the heart no brow, mascara artist)
and I must follow to rescue it from metric
to Thunder Bay, Toronto, and Quebec.
You eyeless ones who gaze at me from the gas pool
where we gain an hour, where our fathers lie interred,
lend me twine and salt. For when I find it, I will bind it
to the ribcage, to the griefpole, to the chamber
of the beater, keep it there with tweezers, threats, and thread.
Self-Portrait With Concealed Quotient
Math does not undo itself, unlike love
which, like a knot, in time, works out
unless sufficiently stiff, complicated,
tied by one who knows about tying
knots. A sailor with his sextant and wicker
basket high with lemons might produce
a map, a machine for gather and direction.
The only one I love has lost her eyes.
Japanese women dive sans masks or oxygen
for pearls. You say they must slim
into the water naked. I think they go robed
in some fine linen, some handmade kozo
paper, some J.Crew-procured safari vest
with the hundred pockets that go everywhere
inside like secret doors or crescents, answers
to easy riddles. They dive with baskets laced
out of reeds for pearls gathered for employers.
They heap them high like caskets or potluck
plates with lemon bars and nonpareils.
All meals end in dessert when you are still
and loved and still can see. Everything is stacked
up in your dreams. These pearls are invaluable
as tears. Arrangement is a skill. These women
slide out of freshwater lakes like commas
shook out of sentences, their baskets dikes
or ripraps made for resistance against
pressure, their pockets subtle, full.
Self-Portrait With Bituminous Coal
It’s like a little sun face-
down on my palm. Beating
heart like a bluegill’s, hooked
and hot from the bag of
words underneath the shed,
in which it lived for years,
from which it is now removed,
I take it out as if it were a wheaty
coin and rub it in my hand—full of tin
and potential, dark as an old world.
Quite a saucy baby. I don’t remember
any information from middle school
geology but the types of coal—anthracite,
diamond, coke, what I have in hand: all
functions of compression, eye, and fire.
This is not a new conceit. I know
coal means electricity means light.
But more—it is the information
hamming through the wire. That
blue plate steak. It is live like killer
bees roaming cliffs in California.
It’s not that they’re poisonous
or have more killerness in them
(as if killerness came in crates
like eggs), but it’s how they act
without restraint that makes
them terrifying. Lonely quotient,
roaming loose from your equation,
hangman freed from many pencilled
sketches, vowel held in lung, suction-
cupped by hooks to vacuum glass that
when played like a sail in wind
goes taut and sounds like moans
like all things long and open do—
duty and dough, song and sow,
little bitcher, your hair
parched straight and growing
even after death or other
efficient, catastrophic use.
Ander Monson is from Upper Michigan but lives in Alabama. His recent
work can be found in Fence, Quarterly West, Many Mountains Moving, Painted
Bride Quarterly, Grain, and The Florida Review. Find his WDS chapbook at:
Web Del Sol.