Pedagogy and Performance

Whatever the lesson was, it wasn't
taking. We awaited the information
in kind of a corporate way
and I kept wanting to go up
to the whiteboard and write
FEMININE MARVELOUS AND TOUGH
and ask Is that what you're trying
to do. Sometimes it's hard to figure
out how to move. When cardinals 
move, they're as imposing as cows. 
They cleave pornography from 
abstraction. But let's also look 
at us a few weeks ago: a scale
model of Seattle with its gleaming
library protruding like a jewel
from a navel—this was our best
self, not the contraption of drawers
and cranks that made our work;
not the surprisingly delicate bones
of Boba Fett, painted the same 
colors as his armor; not the three
tow-headed delinquents who
used the contraption in their 
performance, then went home
after disparaging the audience
and showered together; not the cast
of my life filing into a wooden
amphitheater as my favorite band
started soundcheck in another country.
How would I get there on time,
even with half my friends rooting
for it, how do I get anything done 
when as late as last night someone 
started yelling CARDINAL 
at the sight of blood soaking my sleeve.

More by Mark Bibbins

And You Thought You Were the Only One

Someone waits at my door. Because he is
    dead he has time but I have my secrets--

    this is what separates us from the dead.
See, I could order take-out or climb down

the fire escape, so it's not as though he
    is keeping me from anything I need.

    While this may sound like something I made up,
it is not; I have forgotten how to

lie, despite all my capable teachers.
    Lies are, in this way, I think, like music

    and all is the same without them as with.
The fluid sky retains regret, then bursts.

He is still there, standing in the hall, insisting
    he is someone I once knew and wanted,

    come laden with gifts he cannot return.
If I open the door he'll flash and fade

like heat lightning behind a bank of clouds
    one summer night at the edge of the world.

The Anxiety of Coincidence

Your object will have made a good subject
and I should get to tell you so: the bird 
with a beak but no mouth, we hear him only

when it's night in the Dominican Republic
and Israel at the same time. Someone will 
find your marginalia useful, so try to spare

some ink. I took dictation only from you, 
for whom verbs were nothing and tense 
everything. See the difference, you kept asking, 

but it wasn't a question. See how enormous—
camel hauling an empty wheelchair, conspiracy 
of hangman men, dried-out song that makes

it snow. You realize we could have walked 
home in the hours taking inventory took, jack
of no traits.  Bird with no wings.

Worst Things First

A bag of thank-you notes fell
on me and that was enough
art for one day. Culturally speaking,
it was more like a year
in the floral trenches, kicked off
with a single boneless kiss.
Poor sad demon in his poor dead tree—
or is it he who pities me, cockshy
quasihero with a latex lasso,
taking forever to measure

the dimensions of his confinement.
Some other demons have smeared a flock
of sparrows on a blanket, the full filthy
price of a sky under which they smoked
their names. My prize is a set
of teeth, striptease at the nude beach,
audio files of decomposing stars
telling me, if they’re telling me
anything, that theory’s just another word
for nothing left to like.

Related Poems

Final Performance

I crawl along the wet floor
Of my mother's childhood,

A serpent, or a long-buried secret,
In my mother's bisque
Chiffon gown with small stars

Stitched in silver, a crown
Of tinsel pinned into the dark
Blonde knots and dreads of my hair.

I follow a sequin thread of dead
Things, stop when the moon clocks out,
Polish my long nails in the sun.