John Yau is a poet, fiction writer, critic, and editor, as well as publisher of Black Square Editions, a press devoted to poetry, fiction, and translation. He recently published a book of poetry, Further Adventures in Monochrome (Copper Canyon Press, 2012) and a chapbook, Egyptian Sonnets (Rain Taxi, 2012). He has received numerous grants and fellowships including one from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation (2006), and the National Endowment for the Arts (1976). He teaches at Rutgers University, Mason Gross School of the Arts and lives and in New York City.
The Blackest Black Forest
Just nada y nada, which means drop dead in your cleanest socks, o grand and fearless pumpkin. Whether brave or bedraggled or both, the fact that you can put anything (or anyone) into my poem doesn’t mean that you should submit an innocent biped to the vagaries of an adventure, escapade, or journey, any exploit that might be considered a quest, search, mission, or hunt. Haven’t you been listening? Don’t you press your ears to the airwaves? Undertakings in which there is something momentous, earth shattering, or life changing waiting at an undisclosed location (the end) have not (repeat) been acceptable, or even advisable, for decades (insert longer time frame). It is nostalgia personified ever since (ever since) the price of gasoline began rising, the increased industrial capacity of our treacherous neighbors to the east became an economic factor, and the calamitous aftermath of the fall of grandiose empires to the north and south. Officially speaking, there are to be no further missions, pursuits, or expeditions, either within the domain of this poem or outside its porous borders, in the no-man’s land of ruined kingdoms, broken oil derricks and growing silt deposits. Any such chase could, would, and should end in disaster, an upsetting of the lately achieved balance, a crisis that is to be avoided now that villagers across the land have erected new traffic signals outside their municipal swimming pools. Listen to what they are saying -- Please be careful when approaching the crosswalk; and be advised that the starlings, nuthatches, and finches must be collectively recognized for their contributions to the recent paper drive. This is the poem in which you are most happy, the one that most closely resembles you in all your minor notes of glory.
Arlo Quint is the author of Drawn In (Fewer & Further, 2010) and Photogenic Memory (Lame House, 2007). He collaborated with writer Charles Wolski on Check Out My Lifestyle (Well Greased, 2012), and his book Death to Explosion is forthcoming from Skysill in 2013. He is an editor of Brawling Pigeon and program coordinator for The Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church in New York City.
Still weeping: even to this day the marble Trickles with tears geranium leaves
all through the grass the music is softer on the sides of the music the imitators
Of any kind of sound the bees Didn’t figure we’d find it, they made it for themselves
don’t try to clarify in person, to the sacred mountain They were planning to eat it
all winter long GO IN BEAUTY in front of the daffodils the doors flew open
hovering face down above the world still wonder can’t they message in the air
the part where the lifestyle breaks down Beside the lake, beneath the trees
Shanghai bok choi smaller than baby bok choi pre-corporate apocalypse
chanting at the box office the transition is continuous all counter measures
in the plainest language demonstrating the basic shape is most important