I. How many ostriches on the ostrich farm bury their face in the sand?
They are stupid birds.
And while I’ll admit that their asses
puffed up in the dirt,
speak to us, I can’t say that I haven’t heard
it before. Nor can I say that we,
in all our dumb glory, could conceive
of something more fitting, more perfect,
than to bend gently
over and let the world have us.
But don’t think—even for a moment— that man
is an ostrich on this ostrich farm,
or that we don’t understand
what to do with our heads. We’re bad birds, granted,
that’s already been said
by famous philosophers, and now that they’re dead
let’s unearth the little brains that we’ve planted.
Call it apocalypse. Call it a harvest.
II. What time does the party start?
It starts after the hosts have already fetched
the mop more than once (that’s the retching).
The trough is filled with God-knows-what
and shots are slung straight to our stomachs.
We begin to see a new kind of light
synthetic monkey light.
The forest passes out
on the floor of a mountain.
The lecherous trees eat the dung at their feet.
And when someone claims they see Dean
Young, the party has started. It cannot be stopped.
III. How do you wake up with a hangover?
Have breakfast in a diner with beautiful waitresses. Do coffee at a table with your chair in the aisle. Flirt. Over-estimate your hunger. Lick the butter that’s wet on your bread. Don’t tell too many stories about the night before—only the ones you remember with little accuracy. Tell them the one about the glass of Dean Young and the poems that you wrote on the floor of the pool. Tell the waitress she looks like your mother. Tell her you’ll pick her up at 6:30. Tell yourself to stop anytime—you can stop anytime. You can drive right back to place you began and drive here again. You can slap your liver on the side of your stomach and swallow the rest of the grounds in the cup. Under the table, there’s a mute girl kicking you. There’s love letters written on unpaid checks. But really, there’s you, with a girl you don’t know, showing each other fresh sets of bruises. But don’t worry. I mean it. Don’t fucking worry.
IV. Hey. What’s LASER stand for?
Love And Sex End Rectally.
Lively Apes Scratch Everyone’s Rump.
Lucifer And Socrates Enjoyed Ruminating.
Liberal Angels Still Eat Retards.
V. How do you play spades?
Spades is about books
and the best way to read someone.
It’s a game of skill. I mean,
it’s a game of chance. But thank God
it’s only a game. Maybe the girl
in the red dress won’t put out
unless you win. She’s rubbing her thumb
into your stack of books. This is sign.
Just like pulling the label from a bottle
is a sign.
Maybe you’re eyes are glued
to the card table and the regular dissection
is getting underway. Maybe
you can’t find a vein to the heart.
So you’re standing there with a bad hand
of scalpels, just standing there,
when someone says, a little hesitantly,
VI. Matt or Michael. Who would win?
Both drove half the distance singing
and even though singing is a trump,
it doesn’t trump here. Matt reminds you
of an enormous statue of a lumberjack.
Michael snores. But the snores are melodious.
Matt likes breaking the crab leg better
than sucking the juice from the shell. Michael likes
the sucking, and drinks with the strength of thirty one
men. Matt has a twin. He doesn’t mind a third
party. Michael prefers to make love the old way,
with Tom Waits scratching it face
on the tape deck.
And if masturbation were
the deciding point—and I’m not saying
that it is—you should tie them both
to the low ceiling above you. Watch for the hand
reaches for it first.
VII. Why do you write?
She left me. I cut
both eyes out of her picture
and looked through it.
I don’t write haiku
because I smoke cherries out
of my ovaries.
I am a drunkard.
whiskey like writing.
(Years later, Contemporary Poetry stabbed itself,
and because this was no small feat,
we all considered ourselves brave for escaping.
W e said fuck Jane and wrote ourselves silly.
There were prophets and parodies, babies on fire.)
VIII. Who called the day after the day you made out with a man?
Of course the ex-boyfriend.
You dropped your hand and picked it up
and pressed “play.” And play, it did.
The old way, over your mouth, teeth,
deflated tongue. Your trachea is the longest part
of a sigh. So you sigh across the entire field
and it lands at the forty-yard line.
That’s the farthest
you’ve ever thrown your weight.
They do the replay, in slow motion,
and circle the place where he stepped
out of bounds. That’s a first down.
The roots are dug up and strewn
through the bleachers. Fans do “The Wave.”
They launch cans of beers in the air,
then hotdogs, then programs, then beautiful
an adjective, noun, verb, or definite article we found on the ground of the student center, used before somebody or something that has already been mentioned, or something that is understood by both the speaker and hearer if both are insomniacs.
Ex. I booled that bell.
X. What is a road trip?
Since we are young we can name this mountain
whatever we want. You call it ‘The Wolf Mountain.’
I say it’s shaped like a sail. What we don’t say
is simple: this is the beginning of a joke
that will take a long time to tell.
In the end, I’ll say I love you and it will feel
like the first time we pressed our feet
to the pedals. We’ll reach for the radio
and that far in the future, the radio
will play something people can fall in love to.
And this mountain will mean little in comparison
to way our old bodies still arch upwards, the way
we explain to each other what we carried,
what we still carry, and even then
we won’t get it right. This place will change,
but not because we came back to it. Or because
we’re here right now. It’s a matter of what happens
and doesn’t happen. The ground will give in
or give up what it wants. Our arms
will grow long with the things we let go,
and when we say we are stronger,
it is because we feel more real knowing
the places we’ve been.