Matt Hart is editor of Forklift Ohio: A Journal of Poetry, Cooking & Light Industrial Safety. His work has appeared in Conduit, 88, Ploughshares and Spinning Jenny. He teaches at the Art Academy of Cincinnati.
Song, Not from My Heart
My bone-plate head, enormous.
My well-made head in the furnace.
My ferocious maneuver head.
My insistent, pneumatic and billowy head.
It houses the plans for my lemonade stand.
Someday, I’ll write down what I meant, or instead…
My head on the workings of straw.
My dastardly head of the present.
My marmalade head over breakfast.
My staring-at-air fish head.
My tripped and hit the pavement head.
There’s someone else in there, and he’s breaking the glass.
If I could I’d forget him and sleep through his shred…
My head with its numerous saws.
My letter head speaking absurdist.
My spiral bound head of recurrence.
My chipped to bits revision head.
My parakeet fair-weather lollygag head.
I tried to remember the back of my hand.
I tried to remember, but started to bleed.
My head of electrified moth.
Paula’s note says, you have to make it
worse before you make it, so I buckle down
and worry the evidence into pieces of a cricket.
And now even though the leg still kicks a little
when the lights come on, it just hasn’t been
the same since it separated from his thorax.
So while one doctor makes an incorrect diagnosis,
and another squirrels away syringes for the party,
I wait with a glass of Pernod, clicking
my heels. If the guest list contains a hundred
names and all of them arrive at eight hundred hours,
then how fast will the bartenders have to move
in order to serve everyone before Paula says
something slick/flashy and shoots me into a coma
of flowers? For example, The grammar of gardening
collapses. Is it true we’re in a struggle with language?
Because that’s not what I expected at all. I was hoping
for great white sharks or parking tickets, bad seats
at the symphony. Poor little guy. How ‘bout some
euphony over here? He’s fibrillating something awful,
flipping around in a circle. He’s had it. Please,
somebody get him some dope for the pain.
Welcome to the odd-toed, fearsome land-version of the hippopotamus.
I think you’re angelic, the way you almost rhyme with dust and serve us
as both runway and pit-stop for scores of those little black birds
who are the messengers of god. Reading about you I learned the word
keratinous (more later), and I learned that you are non-ruminant, which
means that you neither re-chew your food (even though you eat nothing
but fiber!), nor meditate with hands clasped in prayerful reverence, as
each second the ultra-violets beat down on your hardy, unkillable
skin. Those horns on your snout parry whatever with heat and
charge—flowers, the wind… On second thought, no, please do not
charge. I am not a rival male, nor am I a (lost) matador. I am unimaginable
(judging by the look on your face—lackadaisical, radiant, much muchness),
and I’m wondering at the tire of your neck, the wire of your tail, and also
that which comes from the Latin word cornus and the Greek
word keras, from which we get keratin (a sulfur-based fibrous protein),
the primary ingredient in all sorts of epidermal tissues: hair, skin, feathers
and, yes, you guessed it—horns. I’d like to see you trash
a lovely home on Cape Cod just because. I’d pay your airfare, or
better yet, I could help you escape from the zoo. Do you ever
go over anything in your mind repeatedly the way I do? Sometimes
I think I don’t matter at all. Do you ever think at all? Matter at all? Worry?
I’d like to be one of those little black birds on your head, or better
just the message he carries: a few words about slouching, a few mumbled
commandments. The universe is crushing. Rhinoceros, break it.