Tuesday, June 29, 2010

havoc on the stars

[this poem has been amended, see subsequent comments]

What Seemed Like Good Ideas

Karaoke at Gabe’s for the umpteenth,
Singing country for Cowboys dribbling
Swill on shave-nicked chins and calling
For encores.

Ordering curried fish in London first
Things first, to pop off my flare for fitting
In—wincing at warm bitters and staring
Whole fish in the eyes.

Pushing all in against a sprung-eyed
Geezer with seven ways of grinning,
None of which guaranteed a sure-fire
Flush or higher.

Quarry dives at Warrior, skinny legs,
White legs wobbling, water-painted girls
Dripping mascara, quoting movies
We all liked that summer, that summer in particular.

Crash course mistakes learned hard
Against the Gulf Coast pushing in white
Breakers, feet numb, and paper-white herons
Scaring the rest of the hell out of me.

Days set aside for anticipating nights
When the kaleidoscope rattled, twisted
By unseen hands—the branches cricketing
Havoc on the stars.


  1. Sweet; it's built so well, Jonathan. I'm trying to put my finger on what I like so much about the tone---a kind of consistent, clever clarity (ignore that wretched, unintended alliteration), all the way down until the last stanza.

    "the branches cricketing/ Havoc on the stars" is so stunning. I admit, I wish the poem ended there.

  2. Thanks Arna and Hannah.

    Hannah, I think you have a point about the ending of the poem. I struggled with it myself. In fact, it originally stopped after 5 stanzas; but that did not feel right. So I pushed on and I admit the 6th is easily stronger than the 7th. I think I will follow your advice. As it is, the final stanza leaves my shoulders slumped.