Whether by Drowning or by Stars

When everyone was granted their childhood
wish for invisibility, it turned out

to be less erotically useful than we all
had imagined. Since then the first

legitimately wild idea I had I tamed
and named Thom Yorke, after a pony

who’d clomped among the precincts
of my visible youth, refusing

to be rode, my use of the word first
also proving to have been based

on an unfounded sense of possibility
that ill-defines my generation still.

Hidden message: we cannot measure
the corruption of our age

but we can make the heat of it
ever hotter by leaping onto the pyre.

On hearing the kvetching of coyotes
in an August night, my doppelganger

climbs up out of the lake
and into a constellation—when light

and death both want you,
one of them might not get its way.

I’ve given names to a dozen other ideas
and deleted those names

because who could they ever have saved.
Impossibly sweet and recalcitrant

old Thom Yorke though,
best pony anybody knew.
 

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.

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.

Related Poems

Maine Seafood Company

(Salt)

A LOBSTER.
           Once out of the box
           The wooden box
           The metal box
           The box, the box, the box
           Dragged up from the salt

           Things don't feel too bad

           And then they do

           And then they don't

(And waves)