Kenward Elmslie

Nov 25

toy bird on its back one metal wing now broken
once tottered tempo arthritic spastic

along an El sidewalk in a fifties home movie
featuring a clean-cut boy version of Ashbery

gazing sexily at sparrets in a gym with open windows
the express gathers momentum and now you see

Frank O’Hara walking on the tracks suiciding supposedly
John Latouche the bird’s winder-upper died first

and soon after I turned into the ‘baby poet’
inventor of the read-a curved pretzel ocean moon hands

a slight delay while the ribbon expands
the breakage around this desk is something fierce

dumb how the object all too often outlasts the person
all too often not counting art shoot why count art he

a testy insight due to the aging process repeat aging process
skipping breakfast always put me in a confessional mood

frankly I began this poem day before yesterday
the title’s a downright lie more so by the minute

especially as this poem’s been festering let’s see
since I lost that toy car in the black space under the house

my first memory (dirt) the victrola’s running down
and that witch in the tree outside is waiting to strangle me

frankly this poem started to be about a photo Nov 25
Nixon’s shoes being shined front-page Nov 25

two shoeshine boys bent way way down Nov 25
freak-out overtones of foot kissage

leading to clompy polkas of national ass lickage
of great beefy men on red leather thrones

in a marble station yellowed with – looks like
hippies have been dropping stuff on the cops again

the soft-drink industry must be ecstatic anyway
meanwhile us good guys are stalled in the Tunnel of Fuzz

‘stuck my dong up the Great Speckled Hawg
them glinty shiny flecks was molybdenum zinc’

the lights just came on again all over the world
a slight decay while the ribbon gets some rest

some deep-freeze therapy for us women and kids please
and when we come back up and the tundra starts to fizz

with our secret oral teachings (psalm one: city lights)
we’ll wrap our bombed friends in palm fonds

and become a singing people (did you enjoy your turkey)
hey we are a singing people (the wing part tasted metallic)