Luna My Captive

And seriously now the guitar is beating me up
It is shoving me into the narrow range of its cheerful melancholy
And all sorts of feelings I want to have I cannot
My feet start to move in exactly the same way
They did for so many years each time I entered
The tin shack where the dancing occurred
Again I see you Luna just as I did
When I was a boy once and everything
Made a large kind of sense we were being guarded
The new wave band with the exciting hair
Produced inside us the same faint scent
Of oranges that filled the patio in ancient holy Spain
We read about in our textbooks
We knew someday we would go
Together there and feel our song
In the narrow alleyways made sense
We would sing it and drink each other’s blood
Which would only make us grow stronger
Sometimes we talked about just going to Panama
To watch the ships move through the artificial scar
Overlords made in earth to bring the goods we loved
We put them in our mouths and on our record players
Luna I am losing the red thread
I want to rush back out into the street
Away from this terrible guitar that is making me feel
I’m just a chandelier in the reflections of my own
Glass droplets quantifying what has passed
Too enervated to keep toiling like a star
Luna I don’t mean to say it’s all been a loss
There was that class I took on how to ride
The carousel holding my nephew
But it’s impossible to be positive with this guitar playing
There is something inside the tune
I can’t alter and this man is singing
All these songs about going there
To be honest I just gave up and moved
I hear my sister yelling in the yard
Luna I’m going to bring my head outside
To see if I can scare some crows
They have bad manners not that I really care
There are three of them right now
Making me think of you and me and the other one
The best evening of my life was when we parked
Above that hill and talked all night
About the things we would never do
Until we grew dark and indifferent
As a well in a ruined village
The army passes by…

More by Matthew Zapruder

Poem for Wisconsin

In Milwaukee it is snowing

on the golden statue 

of the 1970s television star

whose television house

was in Milwaukee 

and also on the Comet Cafe

and on the white museum 

the famous Spanish architect 

built with a glass 

elevator through it

and a room with a button

that when you press it

makes two wings

on the sides of the building 

more quickly than you might 

imagine mechanically 

rise like a clumsy

thoughtful bird 

thinking now

I am at last ready 

over the lake

that has many moods

to fly but it will not

and people ask

who are we who see 

so much evil and try 

to stop it and fail 

and know we are no longer 

for no reason worrying 

the terrible governors 

are evil or maybe 

just mistaken and nothing 

can stop them not even 

the workers who keep 

working even when 

it snows on their heads

and on the bridge 

that keeps our cars 

above the water 

for an hour 

in northern California 

today it snowed 

and something

happened people 

turned their beautiful 

sparkling angry faces up

Poem for Jack Spicer

It's the start of baseball season,
and I am thinking again 
as I do every year 
in early April now 
that I live in California 
where afternoon is a blue 
span to languidly cross 
of those long ones 
you used to sort of sleep 
through getting drunk 
on many beers, lying 
next to your radio 
on a little square of grass 
in the sun, listening 
half to the game and half 
to the Pacific water gently 
slapping the concrete 
barrier of the man-made cove.
I have heard it and it sounds 
like conversations among 
not there people I can't 
quite hear. But you could. 
And later you would try 
to remember what they said 
and transcribe it on your 
black typewriter 
in your sad, horrible room. 
When I read your poems 
about suicide and psychoanalysis 
I feel very lucky and ashamed 
to be alive at all. Everyone 
has been talking lately 
about radiation, iodine, 
and wind, and you are in 
your grave, far from the water. 
I know I don't care about you 
at all but when I look 
at your photograph, 
your round head tilted up 
so you are staring down 
at everyone, I remember 
how much you hated your body. 
Today I will go down by the water 
where you used to sit and think
I do not hate my body 
even though I often do. 
When I die please write he tried
on whatever stone you choose.

Poem for Japan

all day staying inside

listening to a podcast

discuss how particles 

over the Pacific 

might drift 

I knew thinking 

whenever cloud

scares me 

I am not alone

my umbrella slept 

in the closet

I placed a few nouns

in beautiful cages

then let them out

touched with my mind

the lucky cat

asleep in the deli

I always scratch 

his head he slightly

raises to meet my hand

all over the remains 

contaminated shadowmen 

in blue suits that seem 

ecclesiastical now 

that science is 

a religion crawl 

the emperor 

everyone has forgotten

is speaking 

no one knows 

how to be 

loving and also 

hope the wind 

in a certain 

and not another 

direction will blow

Related Poems

American Towns

Seneca, Missouri—soft wash of casino jangle
seeps through the Pontiac’s cracked window.

The map flutters on the dashboard,
one corner grit-soaked.

Sparse Ozark wash of tawny green.
A herd of buffalo lowing in the side pasture.

Here is the voyage,
conjured homeland to conjured homeland.

No, not that clawed trajectory of the past,
but a fierce conception

that quickens and scrapes inside just the same.
The drive to Ohio will take

eleven hours and forty-eight minutes,
cost one hundred and ninety-five dollars in gas.

Chillicothe—in the subtle semantics
of Shawnee, a tightened fist of connotation:

clan name and principal city,
all human systems working in harmony.

Limpid sashay of corn tassels along the byway.
Historical markers beckon the reader

to plunge an arm into the loam
tweeze with fingers to feel how fecund,

no rocks to bend the ploughshare.
What heirloom fields of Shawnee

corn hum under the crust
beside the carbon of burned council houses?

August wheeze of Bad Axe Creek.
Drought thrusts large boulders jutting up waist-high,

deep grooves in the center
for grinding corn. What is owed

grits in the corners of the mouth.
The plaque on the museum’s door in Xenia extols

a Revolutionary War hero:
The ground on which this council house stands is unstained

with blood and is pure as my heart which wishes
for nothing so much as peace and brotherly love.

Summer school kids mill around the museum.
The teacher introduces the panel of tribal council members

as remnants of the once great Shawnee tribe.
Listless murmur of pencils across paper.

In the front room, a volunteer curator leans over a diorama
anxious to capture the real story

of a Revolutionary War camp.
He stipples red paint onto the sandy ground

simulating the gore of a military flogging,
points with the paintbrush to the next room

where fifty-three letters from 1783 broker captive trades
with the Delaware and Shawnee:

wan shades of ink from blanched olive to cornflower,
blotted in the rough or refined sway of long dead hands

each one made phylum by the promise of whiskey.
Leaving Xenia that evening on an old Shawnee trade route

retraced in concrete: Monlutha’s Town, Wapakoneta,
Blue Jacket’s Town, Mackachack, Wapotomica.

Xenia—the influence of the pollen
upon the form of the fruit.

I want my ink to bellow—
where is this ground unstained with blood?