The Owls Won’t See Us in Here: Two Elegies
Starve enough & David Berman starts eating spicy
peanuts off a toy piano. In honor of his combover,
the sky goes cirrus. Survivors look sad in tablet lights,
blue from below. Mom flew hot air balloons for
radio until a trophy of an emu appeared in our home.
When I was nine, she came into the room crying
from a nightmare where I floated away, alone
in the basket. I was horrified at first, then I felt
like the prince of propane. How do you heal
when the king of corduroy is close to the core, skin
cracked, adored by daubers mid-Salah, & the only way
out of a vulture is piling the eyes of assorted strays?
The doe doesn’t know what to do when I call
her John Denver’s Jesus, but her sadness is still
reassuring. A lizard keeps all his clothes inside
a dead leaf. Circus animals struggle to learn
string instruments. Even the vultures seem distracted.
Berman was beautiful like a back crawls with joy.
I feel like a hair in coffee with no cream. No one opens
a piano in your presence. The lid’s already up, like
a mailbox made of music, soft hammers in the housing.
Cardinals are envelopes from the afterlife.
I live below sea level so there’s always something
to escape. The sun is mostly orange when you’re
riding to the rope on a horse with a pseudonym.
Capsules sink like glowsticks. When the weather
is worth naming, crepe myrtles call. Lily pads sign
their satisfaction at the breathable lighthouse
where the grass is wide as green steak knives
& suckling pigs slide off their skewers. When
the hijack is mutual, how does heaven decide?
I stole a shipment of affirmative words. Now
my house is a horrible movie.
These Chalmette oyster boats
were painted with actual ooze
from a meltdown. When you enter a phoropter,
the optometrist eats your illness. Ghost hunters
stay lonely for a living. Sharp, completely pink,
Betty Sue would say, I used to go, but I forgot.
Toadstools surround us like a slow
ritual or pantheon for paleness, some
mycelium starving gardens silver.
All the cheese in hell sprang from
such a carousel of scars. Did I dream that blue
tattoo on the butterfly’s lower back?
With fog like this, who needs
a neck in Kirchehrenbach, a Fackel-
kind to bless the audience ablaze?
It is time for a fresh ritual:
birds don’t think twice when
they see you or sing. What
can we tell the saints except
the time when they refuse
to fade? Deer wait for you
to leave so they can recover
the velvet piled for viewing
pleasure. Maybe the world
can save itself. The flies will
be furious with each of us,
pretending to have our hair
brushed by the saddest trees.
There goes the animal king-
dom, thunder-licked, where
the willows slowly implode,
eating the remaining air. Shh,
the movie’s starting—friends,
do you know where your past
went? Everywhere, our rituals:
somehow we move without our
meat in the movies like the in-
corruptibles, just standing near
water feeling immortal enough.
Confessions of a Ferryman
Leaves crumb in their cradles, refuse to fall. Every advertisement turns
the Eiffel Tower even more unreal.
Bees make decisions in the dark, such as syzygy’s deafness. Boats grow
bored & bean sprouts burst like snap pop
fireworks. Some sparks seem more experienced.
Rams lead themselves along a narrow road. They feel like forty-year-olds in the fifth
grade, their horns stacks of ash.
Like Takitani, my father is famous for never
learning how to love me. Howlers sip poison from a pitcher of flesh while longtails comb
the beach for crabs to condemn. I failed even my fall, live
among the twitching confetti
of Culicidae larvae, rainslick peristomes sucking gore. Rib bones
smoke when snapped
at the proper altitude. Complete the cage
& crows release a crown right above your head.
I met the most romantic potato. He gave himself to gasoline. Now
his spontaneous hairline opens
lumber in Dolomite marrow. He built a cabin where you awaken on a bed of
famous baseballs & the dogs seem larger than shortstops. Street names
change when shadows foam
& deer collapse like director’s chairs.
What amount of dessert cocoons like doves licked with chalk
could save us? Savory graveyards of gumbo solve everything.
Fish brown, their meat too light for mercy. Sweet basil swears
in cinnamon. Between heaven
& here: a wire hanger, ruined birds seething in the bath. Which piano
do you play when the beach is made of empty
orchestras? All anyone can do is build
a mansion by the ocean
in under an hour where cows blink red
& mournful lakehouse synthwave loops.
Basho, a bucket of
azaleas opens its black eyes by the old temple.
As for the hibiscus cracking in the cold on the horse’s back, I am
getting old. We’re the bamboo’s children, a village without bells. The oars
sway in rhythm like cows
question every car. The last ram
waits behind to watch the sun rise. Some don’t seem to want to share the morning, faces pink
with fog, goose
migration. Suddenly the moon is misbehaving.
I’ve gotten so gaunt, the ocean changes
when I dream about the beach. We free the lifeboats & someone pours
honey down the mast to soothe
the sea. I fiddle the one about Gangwon’s son & Mancini until our bodies don’t know
what to do. Music, kiss me forty times—
soon my eyes will darken & I will be reborn
a Jeju foal with a phoenix heart. At last, too late, I have acquired
the confidence of a rose leaf.
You Can Live Again But You’ll Have to Die Twice in the End
1 – Rocks at Belle-Ile
Against dead grass, some tides seem
impossibly purple. Cliffs fruitcake
behind the bull terrier. There was someone
busy at the easel on the other side, but Claude
blinked & sent them into the sea. Waves
mill in memory, no color in the crash,
just roughage set to Ritchie & Ross.
When blue was young, Audrey
dragged a dried tulip petal down my face.
I became a canal where dogs bleed sand.
Just when you think the sky couldn’t
get any grayer, half-pink horses appear.
2 – In the Anio
I sort my sons by the fire
in their follicles. What sleep
doesn’t separate becomes
chameleon. Roof or rock,
one falls, called to current,
homes dug by hand in Tibur
badlands. The shackles are
shaped like a brief violin,
the owner found mute with
three mouths. When I pass
through a murder in Nuremberg,
a warm coin appears in my pocket.
See you in Safed, I say. Don’t just
stand there being agreeable, boring
the gargoyles. This smoke won’t
serve itself. When I hear the whistle
of a windlass, my skin leaves a star
in the sand. Eugenius, they killed me
completely. A single crocus will suffice.
Chad Foret teaches world literature and composition at Southeastern Louisiana University. Recent work appears or is forthcoming in Best New Poets, CutBank, Electric Literature (The Commuter), Prime Number Magazine, Bayou Magazine, Tammy, Flock, Barely South Review, and other journals and anthologies.