:: Article

Four Poems

By Todd Colby.

Iowa

Life alone creams such zones
Like a knee is gouged and no one is there.
You might take a stab at not being there.
Poultice nabbed by people on stoops,
Green glass medallion flashing in the dirt lot.
When the ring tops of bottles bare fists
The rags will later be wrapped over wounds,
Good as a rung of a ladder, my jab.
The L-step, programmed a melee
You did not have to tell a story or
nothing like that like a craving to hear a story.
Or wanting a story or even having discussed it.
I was a vandal then, marshmallows on
Windshields and such, Iowa.

From a Desk

This guy has some rooting around to do.
A spill is current, at least with the bright berry stains
dotting the fence around the hedges.
The children knew that the leisure puppet
had been repaired with glue made from the hooves of wild horses
and it frightened them. They separated themselves into distracted,
clownish brackets-spaced wildly.
I had not thought to brush the glass from their hair
so I masked my expressions of horror
with brown twine. It made my face ache. Just as
a dog will rip into a swimmer’s face, so my big bummer
has sprung into different parts. The ruthlessness
of the intern, career-wise, all the misery foretold.
I locked arms with a witless celebrant, being the gloomy one-
always racing the animals, competing with them in a pool
until they can’t take it anymore-until they give up hope.

Arnica

To be calm
is to be comfortably
moist at the hip. My tongue
is shaped like something sucked
from a shell. My sparks are still good,
I shed them in the golden light
of 8th Avenue all the way
across town where the cab drivers veer toward me.
Brisk doors whoosh past all the guys from Tech
School. They see me with steel eyes
and stand up to the sound of a skidding car.
I don’t care
if you don’t have
a care in the world-
you see me and I see
the day is not-so-quietly exploding
while Mercury humps mythical pudding into blue smoke.
I’ll sit right down in Gramercy Park on that fenced off patch of
silvery
grass.
I had my photo taken there once and never got it back.
There’s a part of me that twinkles like slivers of glass
embedded in the sidewalk and another part that I have to read about
in magazines to get a grip on what the fuck I’m up to. Clipped
and sordid, I bake in the sunlight and sculpt
sexy shapes from the granite we’re built on.
I’ve explained my problem
with my leg in the air and I can’t get
anyone to act like that.
Still, the pieces of me; they glitter,
sort of, it’s this glass, I’m real.
Don’t let me distract you
with this tincture for bruises-
maybe I should, you know,
stop. Calm as the everglades,
I’m not so sure.

Squash Buckler

Noble one of simmer mode
The hankie is pulverized
By the wedge of sports
A vehicle of downers
A drowsy stagehand
Magnificent oranges
All the wedding cake you
Can eat a handful
At a time.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Todd Colby is the author of Tremble & Shine (Soft Skull Press, 2004) and Riot in the Charm Factory: New and Selected Work (Soft Skull Press, 2000). He recently published a limited edition graphic novel with the artist David Lantow entitled Sympathetic Detonations (Evil Clown Books, 2005). The novel is only available by contacting the author. He lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, the artist Elizabeth Zechel.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Saturday, August 10th, 2002.