New Poetry with Audio!
Joshua Harmon's poems are published or forthcoming in The New Criterion, Colorado Review, Volt, Arshile, Mid-American Review, Verse, Quarter After Eight and elsewhere.
Crown of character, I dis-hire you. I will muddle within the copse.
I solved you only as a
simple scratch of a him against a her. Something perhaps broken.
I banged my me against your us. A germ of being. Slack scraps.
My bearing: bent. My blather: blurred. My blot of understanding. My abrasions. My pocket economy.
My own dereliction.
Because I imagined this strung-along town containing me
Because I believed the interest rate low
Because I saw too much through the curtain (though pretending to
Because the pill bottle was already empty (if chalked with chemical)
Because I spent all afternoon reading the personals
Because Rhode Island smelled damply (because my house smelled
Because I attempted to resist the sky with tinfoil and string (an old
Because I was invited for dinner (and accepted)
Because I did not share in the washing-up
Because I misremembered the dead (because I misquoted the dead)
Because I forgot my orders (and substituted false ones)
Because I suggested the boy be home-schooled (his T-shirt bore an
Because the reporter paused for the cameraman’s cue (because I
Because the Scrabble set is missing too many tiles to continue
playing (because I wanted to continue playing)
Because I stutter when I mean to speak
Because I’ve always spent too freely
Because the boy’s mother wept on camera (because I wept at the
televised photo of the boy)
Because the snow seems only soap flakes (sifted from a stepladder)
Because I said snow when it was rain (because we are always
under the weather)
Because I watched the boy steal the bicycle, and did not hinder him
(his T-shirt torn)
Because of the boy’s taste in breakfast cereals
Because the roots of the trees are the only things keeping the soil
Because I walked half a mile in stocking feet to view the public
Because my documents proved counterfeit
Because I never bothered to ask the boy his name (because I never
bothered to give the boy his name)
Because I forgot where I began, or where I intended to go
Because I am still uncertain what is on the other side (because I
waited, but nothing happened)
Because the most interesting story is the one left unspoken (the one
The trees indicate every failure of the imagination, the wind likewise. The scuff marks in the grass recall a window-framed face (the grass itself a foreign terrain, its borders meant to be sidestepped). The smudges moving through the landscape—birds, for example, or pedestrians—should be ignored. However, to see a dog, to dream of a dog occupying a landscape, a dog reefed amid a landscape’s weedy habit, should prompt you to kneel (clear a space in the weeds). The bones of a building suggest your first theft, or an ignored nighttime thirst. Disregard the clouds’ attempted disguises. No, a cloud—blued, wisped, a singular tatter, a heap of being, passing fancy—any cloud—is simply a lack of appropriate effort. A crumpled or rusted beer can is a poor sign. A pornographic magazine, pages rippled with rain, scarcely better. The lazy flowers, yellow and unnamed, refer to an invented story—unexpected business travel, the benefits of the local youth soccer league. The pinecone: call your mother (see also: molt). This still and silent thicket means that soon there will be no birds left in North Kingstown. A circle of stones: please do not spark a fire here. A sandy patch, a paving square (cracked or otherwise), a beach (dusked), a barbecue grill (blackened, sticky), packed and crystallized snow, a feather (gray or brown), a stretcher (antique), a tree frog, a tiny hexagonal structure (of unknown material), a hitching post (granite), a horizon-far water tower: consult the corresponding guidebook. The acorn, capless, worm-bored, is not forlorn, if at first it seems so, nor intended to indicate such: it is merely the remains of the lunch you forgot to carry to school seventeen years ago.
An echo’s answer: repeat after me. This is only an interrogation of
The bullet fragmented in memory of a hit song and we
We collected at the bedside of our friend. Her name was kindness,
a kind of violence, or caused a kind of violence—
a tear, a rope, a glass of whiskey, a yolk
I’d prefer a recording of silence,
A fear of the future
In the holy city we live inside the wall, in the shadow of the wall
stone-bent, bed-kept, a dabbed smack in the middling smoke
We sleep homesickly and leave verse at the door
in the wall, the frayed end. I am less interested in
a peek at the garments of understanding, to fingerprint their cloth,
than to have once worn them.