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David Groff

David Groff is the author of Clay (Trio House Press, 2013), winner of the Louise Bogan Award for Artistic Merit and Excellence, and Theory of Devolution (University of Illinois Press, 2002), which was chosen by Mark Doty for the National Poetry Series. He teaches at the City College of New York.

By This Poet



Not the poet—though yes,
a poet, aspiring. Old. 
At Big Cup he regards us
slickened with testosterone,
his eyes entertained.  
Though his full hair helps him 
seem a youth in drag	
save for the swags of his neck, 
he can’t but help present
himself as age itself, 		
a brand of birthmark
we think we won’t accrue,    
unnerving as June rime
limning a suburban lawn,
as if he were a black man
scouting a Mormon temple.  
His melting candle of body,  
cupped, burns. He grins.

Compare him to the man-crone 
trolling Our Place 
in Des Moines with Frank
Fortuna and Dan Grace
two decades ago: 
Brutally cruising, drunken,
his halo of hair aflame, 
he swaggered to budding men
declaring "You'll be me!,"
his annunciation denunciation,
then stalked off, sated.
The boys, abashed and angry,
decided time was a virus
you just had to swallow.
"The faggot angel of death,"
Frank baptized him.
Now Frank is fifty-one,
commences drinking at noon. 

Maybe knowing Frank,
or himself an initiate of crones,
and warhorse of Village cafes
whose soldiers now are wraiths, 
(who here knows			
what old men know?),
Milton acts like he belongs.
He steps among tattoos,
buzzed hair, and bashful mouths, 
inhales the caffeine and finds
himself an appropriate chair,
surveying the sipping guys, 
while taking care to seem
a clean old man.
He winks, to summon us 
to the fallen fruit of himself
that if we’ve got guts enough 
we will pick up and eat. 

Dead Deer

Bolt, thwarted vault, late brake,
gasp of impact, temblor of thud—
the beast drops on the blade of hood,
ribs rip from their roots, hearts seize,
the windshield goes dark as an eyelid
curtaining to a horizon of blood,
black glass laced with lightning—

I am hit with wheel, steel, doe
embracing me backward as speed
crushes me forward into
a bursting hug, sternums to spines,

past last words,
no extra second to follow the plan to tell
God I am sorry, no foxhole repentance,
no appeal to the fate-maker,
my sentence incomplete, a fragment, a run-on,

no scenes spun out so fast
that the brain convulses with conclusion and love—

I do not even think of you,
cough no torn word for you to live by—

I mesh corpse into carcass,
I am dead, dear,
I leave you my velocity
and there at the edge of the road
I give you my fawn.