Five Poems by Rob Schlegel
Five poems by Rob Schlegel in COMPANY
“Part of it was crawling, part of it was about to crawl,
The rest was torpid in its lair.” I’m ready to be something else
After Napoleon’s real hair. The flamingo’s
Vacant eye appears
More vacant inside the Museum of Natural History. Hex
On the ship
Is never enough. All these gulls in their duress over
The girl washed against rocks
Berries hawthorns drop. You can hear the hiss of dazed
Insects pressed between pages of
“Spiritual Experience.” There’s the sailor, lately
Holding my ticket away from love’s cut I can’t see
Love is a book of Yeats Alan sent to Brandon Brandon
Sent to me. Eyes damned in the near
Work, red and tender, there’s the sailor. We meet as though
We’ve never met
The poem’s void under the shadow of swords.
TWENTIETH CENTURY PLEASURES
We crossed a threshold and felt at home. The title,
We said, the deed. We need evidence
We don’t belong before
We leave. You could see our economic gait across
Doctrines labeled destiny. We prepared for the first
Arrival. Boatloads of relatives by marriage
By blood. We replaced paintings
With better paintings. What that meant was never
Contested. We stepped over children
Whose fates we wrote on walls. Some received
Hammers, nails, three nights
Of unmolested sleep. Others: nightmares, chronic
Pain in their extremities, seventeenth century
Disease. Mornings we’d harvest
Onions, fruit, varieties of leeks.
Critics called foul. You know, the over
Under. Others hazarded tokens: Hello, how are you?
Anyway. Evenings we’d walk aimless
Through snow. It was like opening your
Eyes into a room full of anaphora, but bigger.
We had help for the fencing, the planting,
The building, help for the Queen.
We had help for the slaves, the peasants,
The growing, help for the greens.
Help for the grapes, the meats,
The music, help for the hawks.
We had help for the snakes, the seduction,
The sex, help for the talks.
Help for the child, the breathing,
The reading, help for the illness.
We had help for the party, the loons,
The painting, help for the stillness.
We had help for escape, the planning,
The dreaming, help for the trash.
Help for the sleep, the brain, the laughing,
Help for the imminent crash.
I don’t, I don’t think
you know this, she said. I don’t think
you know this about me
I’ve never been swimming in the recreational
format, I mean, for fun
I’ve never been swimming for fun
The video features Saab dad reading Money on a bench his
Daughter leaves to explore
Swings where a man pumps his legs whispering
I hallucinate 19th century graves downgraded to empty
Bottles of Aleve
Authorities sign the cross delaying the release of video featuring
For keys to the shore Christmas fills with choir
“Your Gucci's a fake”
Is not deescalation. When I hallucinate meaning the video
Features my social, sexual
And parental mistakes. The prosodic equivalent of
No photos, please
Is friends writing poems through which I pass singing Ring
Around the Rosie. Therein lies the fissure
Winds fever when snow’s a ghost orphaning calm in the
Blue light making space in my eye where panic grows a tree
Matter? Is fire? I hallucinate a park for skeptics like me filming
Trees shaping the air with
Heritage when the wind claims to dry all liquids
I can hear the blood in my head when I hallucinate ashes
The video features a life.
Be lost, or just
Be you, Kisha says the morning spiders trigger the smoke
Panic retails for change I throw away when pledge of allegiance
Verse in conflict with where I live in relation to labor blistering
Hands in fields spring rains erode. I know you know
What I mean
When I say I want a Mary face. Life’s less reaffirming
Wil’s teacher teaches division via word
Jake cuts his pie into six pieces. That some students
Don’t know what pie is
Is American as “Maybe I'll spend my gap year in D.C. massaging
Policy.” When I'm mercury I read Frankenstein
Outreach is discount NetJets
That I'm moon to me, but cube to suits stuck in adolescence
Secret. Mary Shelley learned to write her name by tracing it
From her mother’s grave
What I love about mom is, Your trauma
Is my trauma
Can poetics be divorced from politics is one question creditors
Venom to logic made suspect. I’m an American Mystic means
I’m the opposite in markets promoting
Fur is that?” When I’m poetry I reach
Into prose. When I'm daydream I tell Picasso, Nice portrait
Yes, he says, everybody says she does not look like it
When I’m with you when you’re with what you think is me
Of a genius you have sat with. When I’m alcohol I sound
My god. Care
With words is one form of control. When I’m field foxes sleep
I impress my sisters when I’m silk.
Rob Schlegel's books include The Lesser Fields (Center for Literary Publishing) and January Machine (Four Way Books), which won the 2014 Grub Street National Book Prize. His recent poems can be found in Bennington Review, Lana Turner, and Poetry Northwest. With Daniel Poppick and Rawaan Alkhatib, he co-edits The Catenary Press. He has lived in several states.