POEM ACROSS FOUR MONTHS ◦ Natasha Young
1. The Fourth of July
We were sitting outside on blankets drinking mushroom tea
and my scraggly-haired baby compassionately touched my ankle
and knee while he was talking to my friends for me
and I liked how he made me feel included
even though I was too high to keep up.
We’re not evolving anymore?
Progress isn’t what we believe we are promised in life?
Fireworks fired off all day, even in the scalding light of
afternoon, scaring the neighborhood dogs
whose pained barking dragged the atmosphere with anxiety.
Before sunset we went to a friend of a friend’s
house stacked on stilts into the side of a small mountain.
I was nauseous from the mushroom tea.
We’re post-rationalist, she said as if it were
obvious. I was so infatuated with everything
I was learning from listening to their conversation
my mouth agape betraying my goofy teeth
I was on the porch looking out over the side.
Fireworks exploding over sprawl scattered
across a burnt sienna and forest green hillside.
A house I could see below ours on the side of this
cliff with fencing staggered into the side of the hill
to ensure a 6′ minimum of barrier at every
elevation. The staggered fence was a monument
to paranoia or, depending how you look at it, sensible consideration of risk
an acknowledgment of malice
an obstacle for the people the helicopters hunt at night
I walked through the party to pee
A tall man in glasses remarked
“I think everyone here has been to grad school�?
stopped me in my tracks as I passed
“What about you? MA? MFA?”
I said no, I actually do things
2. Last daze in my childhood home
Dear in the headlights of the red-eye plane
you are what you entertain
like a poem uses line breaks
to influence the rhythm
at which you should read it.
I down some Canadian Tylenol-C because my head hurts everyday these days.
Losing it isn’t so bad
It’s like a bone-breaker healer for the psyche
not the easiest way but it’s effective.
No consensus on a series of events means no judgment can be made
no consolidating differences of perspective into reality
someone or everyone is lying convincingly
ultimately making consensus impossible.
3. A reversal, a retrograde
No rapturous passion to sustain the infinite moment through, no end to the infernal memory repeating
of the songs of a time past oversaturated with meaning I now find unbearable to hear
We loved this man together whom neither of us knew, his piano and voice part of the sublime haze with which we’d hotbox our third storey flat on avenue de l’Esplanade
Years come around full circle a looping track we overplayed the both of us prone to scorpionic obsession
The memory, a reminder of present lack, demands to be seen, stomps its feet for my attention, an antagonistic petulance proliferates in anything one badly wishes to suppress
The poetic imagery of the man’s songwriting we pulled apart by sinew by thread it was a story we told to one another over and over until it became one with the story of us
Our ardour for each other bottomless so we painted our every mutual interest with its luminous pigment, or did all that love spill over onto everything around us: our friends, our cat, our unfortunate nextdoor neighbors
We were so much it’s so strange not to be anything at all even after all these years and I dreamt you had a daughter the other night, dreamt another night you and I took a walk and went out for deux cafés allongé
You are the familiar enough image of all the love I have known that you play yourself in my dreams so well it can’t not be actual you although I think you’d be disappointed to know that I keep you around
Then again I imagine you could never again listen to that man’s music without seeing me by your side passing you the spliff and touching your hair, my affectionate compulsion
4. My unaspected moon
I have my moments when I am a spirited embodiment of what my astrologist called Gemini energy
I mean every astrological entity corresponds to a characteristic, mood, personality quirk, common
to the whole of the human experience
I was one of those people who used the word spiritual in a pejorative sense, discounting subjectivity, skeptical of intuition, though now I know both are as real bodily phenomena to which reality is never not liable, every movie is in conversation with the canon after all and satire is the monkey’s paw of rhetoric