[Fresh from the philosophy]
Fresh from the philosophy
department I lay out
all my writings like
some security blanket --
so many certainties
hulk down this hallway
makes me a nervous
and uneasy secretary.
But for now these print-outs
reassure me, especially
the poems youll never see
dear reader -- One thing
I love about my
unfinished tracts is
my putting square
brackets around the title --
A first line copied and bolded
as if I work through
my own undiscovered
juvenalia right here -- as if
the first lines jog the ears
of a scholar couple
from a college press --
watch them snuggle there
with my galleys in some
wide-eyed decade. Maybe
Ill be remembered for
using informal contractions --
how in a time of poems
with strange and formal
I at least rallied
to toil the world back
to conversation --
not strung out down some
vast corridor offices --
but rather a chat
with a nervous man
who lives like a child.
Effusive Letter to a Friend in Crisis
taking bodies from graves tonight,
As they do every night, and
Psychic toddlers find
Hidden on lunch hour
And offer them pieces of fruit.
you might not want to exist
Where the purest effects of your life
Can't bask under a full spread of stars.
the case, the sweet hum
Of this earth continues, Darling--
The high tweet of nerves,
drum of blood,
By a single crow.
kids don't know any better.
Neither does the crow.
No one's told either to hide behind trees,
one gets used to the white lights between stars.
Melodramatic Self-Portrait in Dead of Winter
want to say this coldly, but nothing happens with me.
I see my hands move, and at times I adore watching them
gesture wildly, but nothing happens. I could be on Lower Broadway
on a Saturday afternoon, flailing away, and not one German
puts down their bags to watch. So there's much work to be done.
mean to say is I've tried--I've tried to save my hands
up for special occasions, for that one vital sign, to try to have my
crude way of saying things. My dreams of shitting in my childhood house,
for instance--In these dreams, I'm not a child, I'm a full-grown adult
squatting on a newly waxed kitchen floor. A few transfigured
dirt-filled dreams like this could move one to gesture, I guess,
by accident. In this way, my words are cold,
just as yours are. I, I who have nothing but premature fruits in spring,
plucked early and tucked under my neck, as if they could be nuzzled
and used at some later, warmer date. I see all these legs on one crowded
and know the world will wait for me. Spring will soon come, the gloves
will be off,
and my hands will catch up with my head. Then I'll move my hands where
When I come home from a long trip
my wife feels my forehead,
touches my scar from right to left.
know how it got there
but knows to check.
When I get home
some chords by the fireplace
and eat a bowl of sugared cereal.
As with most trips, I didn't learn anything-
try to take some lessons home,
as they say. But I can't reconcile the dream,
the outside's syntax of wonder
near-hugs of boys
I grew up with. We're all so thick-skinned now!
And the kisses we had up in the tree forts--
The girlie magazines stashed
under trash bags? The rain finally soaked them.
Night fell through a potholed clearing
fell on concrete steps, running, bleeding.
All this bitterness of want and sleep
moves in versions of death, where all
is about, ever,
is escaping the town where you were born.
When I get home from a long trip,
my guitar, play some cowboy chords, feel
the rosewood neck, sit on the couch
and lie down with my lady.
stroke the stubble hairs
on her thighs, and look into her face
for a long, long time.
Nester is the author of God
Save My Queen, a book on his obsession with the rock band Queen
(Soft Skull Press). His work has appeared in Nerve, Open City,
Crazyhorse, LIT, Slope, and forthcoming in Best
American Poetry. He is the former editor of La Petite Zine,
and now edits the online journal Unpleasant