A few Sundays ago I went to Zinc Bar. I had never heard the three poets who were reading before—John Mulrooney, Laurie Price, and Sean Cole—and I wanted to hear something new. I enjoyed them all; they were worth the walk across town. If any of them would have read more, I wouldn’t have minded. The last was Sean Cole. As he began, I began to think to myself that I should have recorded them all, and took out my iPhone to record his last two poems. Sean sent them to me to include on this post. Enjoy.
I bet it’s fashionable to be this lonely.
Lips shellacked into a bum-out rictus.
They’ll want me on screen. Like James
Dean. But not as deceased. I was
in a movie about driving once and
adultery. A famous woman in denim
attempted to blow her former husband
back into love with her it was cluelessly
sad. I wasn’t the husband I played
an arm-rest. The radio’s disconsolate
tonight people on it imitating a hail
storm. I can feel the weight of this
whole high-rise as I lean out of its sill
smoking. Still smoking. Concrete
and brick with thick steel running
through its middle. Someone lives
up on the roof above me in a boxy
crow’s next growing food in short
buckets and tubs. I can’t imagine
anything lonelier than their row
of shoes right inside the door
to everywhere. A shoe
is lonely. A pair is a possible
vacation somewhere. But climb
into those sneakers and where
do you go really? Find out what’s
playing at the movie place where
they serve booze? Glide through
six orange train stops to the wine
house you turned your ex’s best
friends onto? Yes.
I’m at a table there now.
This poem’s a travel poem.
All poems are. All people
are astronauts orbiting a short star,
being orbited by their infernal
ruminant. Years aren’t very long
anymore. This past one
put me into effing Jason
Robards boots of self-abuse. A dude
at the next table just said “That’s
literally my best idea.” People talk
that way. Lovers pass the windows
of this bruise-hall, peering in,
to make me crownless. They pause
to kiss in full view as if throwing
the switch on a hurt-throne. Everyone’s
around me. Their eye-horizons rise
to meet the body cumulus.
The school across the street still
speaks quietly through its red doors.
You’re an egg-making machine,
Mayim, your name means “water”
in Hebrew. You’re slight, and ropey,
a slew of cantaloupe slices in cream
would feed you. “Slew” as in we
slew the cantaloupe with off-handed spleen
and set it in a bowl, laid the eggs you made
atop it – two troubled frog’s eyes in a yellow
dream. Drawn with food. We’re humans
born from lima beans inside a stove.
To hew to social norms isn’t like us:
we eat the eggs and melon with a green
spoon, not a blue one.
you swim with Sue, your mom, I walk
the opposite direction and somehow
hit the water too. The water, Mayim,
it’s all around us – temperate, see-through
and saline. Walker, Kailey, Des and I read
separate cups of tea leaves where the boats array.
The rhythmic hitting of the dock against the beam.
Somewhere, in distant lawn,
a grub crawls on a leaf. It doesn’t know
its integers, nor fractals, its esteem
is low. Still it shoulders through the grass,
eating things that grubs delight to eat.
The mirror has my father’s legs.
You’ve got Sue, your mother’s, teeth.
These eggs are better than the ones I do.
The yolks are protein moons against two clouds.
Sometimes in Tel Aviv they do a dance.
It’s called “Mayim Mayim.”
I don’t know how it goes.
It’s wet though – like a stream.
Streams don’t have names like creeks do.
Which seems unjust. Also,
Greeks have names. There’s one called
Doug Cole whom I’m related to.
He’s half Greek, and half asleep on
Dramamine. His home’s a boat. It sits
there in the archive pool, a sloop,
it’s hull as bare as bird feet in a stew.
Tonight I’ll eat a sandwich on a hill.
The sun will bow, the moon will join
its team. I’ll stand between them, unsure
who is whom. The bay will cow its orphan
dial tone. Let’s have a toast. Not a speech
but heated bread inside a glass. One slice.
It’s hard to eat like that, let’s lay it flat
and place two eggs across it. One for you,
Mayim, and one for Sue, and me. That’s
three. Crack another in the pan and cover
with the glass pan mask oh good you did.
One cool heart opened here’s gold inside
and albumin. Same protein as in our
blood. We’re each a flood contained
within a shell — an orange fallen
from a tree that somehow,
against all pauses, grew.
…with Brendan Lorber, Ian Bacetta & Sharon Mesmer, @ Poetry Project
…Photo by Stephanie Foo