:: Article

Three Poems

By Russell Jaffe.


The years you felt were ok become the slow good years in memory drunk on tree sap. What’s a grass. What’s waiting in the placid asides. And I miss. Those days I miss are parallel constructions: one a type of paper for craft projects, one I research alone on a computer years off; I remember hairy arms, cheap watches, pepper cigar skins flaking.

We hid underage things from the police on suburban patrol and leaves were cheap, the yellow between bars a foggy memory like a TV show’s 2am static and there’s an 8 minute drive home set to skipping CDs, blank and cool, but set to fire, I am the fat light in your glass bottle.

It’s hard to hold on to those things that fall away, a polemic of shadows and the virtue of overweight youth and nothing. Hookahs and suburban lawn furniture. The angular 80’s carried into the 90’s, always tired but still out. We called the houses’ mothers Misses, we didn’t have a name for the woods. My hair felt fat as I felt my torso was, a leafy memory.

Composing and the act decaying under the carpeting. White stucco, briefly.
Your house was a house of friends and a refuge from the dull, mechanized hum of safety. We’re all the suburbs inside still.

Writing well and listening make up a forestscape. My and our sun was quartered by the loose slats of the lawn chair. We sat in a circle. We smoked and we passed time like it was time. We waited for things to happen like the gentle cicadas around us chirped away their lives and months later we recounted our happenings. Nights like these are thick
and heavy stomachs like gas giants and their introvert moons.

Season of sky that smells like grass, season of laying on your side while the fans blow wave crashes onto you like sand. But the sand is fire flecks and the sun is the light over the back porch that lets you know people are seasons themselves, seasons of picking things up, looking at them, and putting them back again.

Drive back often.I am there. But the forest has been modified, smeared on my gut like unfamiliar territory or roasted marshmallows and beer bottle sweat. It’s continuously expanding. The ash is scattered and you can smell the wood.
But the fire is missing.


The true heart’s hollow canals are paneled

Bravery   you had knuckles like bark
and an attitude like rural Illinois as in
whatever dude and the trashed stars are ringing like
those grains in between your socks and feet those
ones that are like us and white flecks we brush off to the ground
like stars do when it’s pink morning knocking loudly through
the trees and crunching the leaves like it’s drunk and tired again
and its hollow stomach feels like its tin or a facsimile
of a heart that’s cavernous
Leave your family groundswell and dig in with us like
ash birds slurring vocabularies of trees
Set up camp here with us dude
and you’ll be among friends
near the cold beach and
I took out a notebook and you were like
don’t write about the heart baby baby
this is a cold day
and there are too many wooden shutters all the time
Move into this cabin with my girlfriend and I dude but don’t stay
too long because it will get weird and squelchy
that sound file PS
I did bring a computer you know so I won’t get bored
that comes from people in relationships who forget how you’re
supposed to talk to your friends like moths that
forget trees and whatever like secret holes they live in
say fuck it whatever there’s light
there behind that pink in this crib of trees
It’s prenatal that way
and the lake near the woods sprays us all
like it’s another joke of a lonesome lighthouse
the awkward prone parts of sleeping America
wedged in our dark paneling
We prefer birch or beechwood because
my girlfriend and I liked running in the sand with kites
but actually I did that and she took pictures
while my brother like an oak rolled his pants up
and stood there shaking his head
we were supposed
to meet mom and dad for lunch but
the coordinates were missing
at least on that day and now the house
is both burning between us and totally
falling apart
I won’t rake leaves as they’re the cheap mobiles that remind me
of the stems that climb stars like leaves
and cages of trees also are bassinettes on wheels
rolling down cold sand dunes faster and faster and
won’t dare tell me I don’t follow them


Big country

These stars are
ants on cheesecloth
And you say:
I could write poetry
about this
A fawn idles
Your friends are passed out
and little birds
traffic the Boggle
dome sky
so in that way
you know jet trails
owe their livelihood
to feathers
and if sleeping bags are
grubs last night was
a beak
You could write poetry about this
Will you
You already said this
is where god comes to think
so you could
because as you drank out here
you raged like one
you spun like one
Hit your tummy like
a vacuum
like a fire pit
like the bag of small parts you aren’t supposed
to lose


russell jaffe
Russell Jaffe is an English teacher and installation artist living in Iowa City, IA and working at Kirkwood Community College. His poems have appeared in La Petite Zine, The Portland Review, elimae, Horse Less Review, and others, and his chapbook G(*)D is forthcoming from Pudding House Press. He is the founder and editor of O Sweet Flowery Roses literary journal.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Friday, January 7th, 2011.