a manual of foreign seasons

i am at the war
they say it’s real this time

sipping my hotdog and lemonade
i cast my line over the revolving sky

of north america, pull it back
fishless—the bleachers are cold

in the unspooled sun, the scale
points north, a history of our black music—

putting the hotdog back
in the fridge in saran wrap, news

of a varnished rose reaches me
filthy rumors, threadbare levers

on a reservoir of diffuse intent—down
at the third shift

in the factory of facts about the war
where i work the refridgerator isle

dreams slide open
and the lights slam off

but luckily we just got in
some sophisticated scope operators for our temporal adverbs—

this won’t come as a shock because you got my message
but we are now representing a new client,

in the end, ourselves, but only
as representation itself, the unmediated touch of words

nothing outside the world—
after the first good rain of spring

italian airmen accumulate
around the bulletproof

mannequins, investigating
their distant stares with fishhooks

which lead them back
into the stomach of a swan

but the investigation can’t begin
until the budget comes in

and the tide goes out
and the DNA swabs

of the victim’s eyes
clear canadian customs

in the radiant urn-sun
where the splitting branches of the elm

multiply simple fractions—i left
the office early expecting war

we need to get out
of the office sometime

and remember to remember
to remember—the blinds

are snapping up the sunlight
like hogdogs—as a training experiment the police

pull over my friend van green in his blue
bmw convertible, grab him from the car

at gunpoint, handcuff him on the ground
with their knees in his back, breaking his watch and

glasses before they search his car, then
release him—the future forms

from failed metaphors in the moist climate
under vinyl carpeting, thrives during gestation

on powdered vicodin and the general
shape of socialist eschatology unfolding above—i love

the tulip tree,
i love that tulip tree, it’s important

somehow—i am at the war
a can of chicken of the sea

open in my hand, the scale
on the fulcrum of a moth points its levers

north from a lion-pawed bathtub
of breakfasts i’ve embalmed with hairspray and vaseline,

offerings to our apollo of guadalupe, protector of the unborn
and in the next two frames

the dream slides open
and the lights slam off

***

Joshua Krugman lives in Glover, Vermont, where he works as a puppeteer with the Bread and Puppet Theater. His poems have appeared in Osiris and The Bitter Oleander.

 

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