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Clark Coolidge
from Own Face
(Angel Hair, 1978; reprinted Sun & Moon, 1993)
Own Face


Connie's Scared

The wind came up, the radishes died and
the peelings continued. No one could be
more hostile than a species enclosed in
a chimney for a century or so they told me.
The lighter fluid on the other hand might warm
your nails. We deserve overtime
for dealing daily with these mistreated burdens.
The milkweed pods for no reason in the world
we could see ignited and the frog is loose.
The mail at last arrived but you had better
proceed to lick your envelopes more heartily
as they all came empty. No one exactly states
but everybody thinks the whole world level
has been lowered and continues. If the flame
goes out the food will spoil, remember?

Then there is the problem of the stray moose
to be seen from the road or better not, bring
apples, take pictures, but the village idiot
had his son throw rocks. The later thunder
around the sleeping household was a mere
five minutes herd of cows. And Rip Rowan thought that
thunder was produced by two crickets banging
garbage cans together. Tomorrow the snow will
be higher and the school fail to attract. I pay
for entrance to this life by my exit, can't wait
each morning to treat of impossible questions and
have never been depressed. Makes you wonder,
all these seacows spitting on their tails,
flashing lights on the spaceride and even in my dreams.
Claimed I awoke from the fight I couldn't win.
Chained my warts to a snowcone.

Across the street are many stray dogs but whose
fault are the cats. Something terrible's going on
in the woods the rabbit is screaming, the cat
distinctly calling your name, nothing that can't
be solved with golf club and pistol empty. Lock
your house when you leave for the auto. The company
that brought you pasteboard frowns on too many
fallen trees. Check your son's teeth when he eats
or he'll end a blimp. A crib death when a baby's
network lapses mid-breath. The television not collapse
but slowly burn out. And that cooking by radar might cost
you a few meals. There goes another roast beast.

The adult book human gunned down as he left. Seems
the nature of crime to go unsolved, covered up,
never caught. Sal Mineo, for one. If so, wouldn't
you want your kids to stop it. A gay couple hated
for their foul language not their sex. But the fat weather
woman terminated as a lesbian. Stamp out discomfort
and lift a heel for bliss. Heaven more attractive
now that harps are out of style. One arm in a sling
and the other in a bear. At the loss of life and
limb remain cool. Their son last seen chewed by
croc in pool of steam.

There is no longer any Florida and Christmas nowhere.
The men removed our home sometime lastnite while
we shook. Asked me how I felt and what he could do
with his mike. All my girlfriends have been raped,
some in basements, some by families. Even in the movies
they don't know they can complain. Reels mixed, eyesight
tearing. Heard they've even left the lights on in space.
The dawning hastes and subsequent vagueries.
Never a morning wake but I congeal.



In Positions is the Matter

That the birds sizzle on the ledge, they are at
their food.

When the wind stirs the twigs, it is seen
that they are of wire.

Are distant mountains merely outlines of a noon.

I open and read the pages by myself.

The summer has been cold, as the saying goes.

Then the pen rises blunt like the moon.



At the Poem

You must have missed the signpost, took
the wrong turning, ended up for the sore moment
in that mud without holes. You must gaze
into the sun here to take your rest, suspend
motion and speech on a point of
zircon sand. The only articulate surfaces, they
are also somehow sounds, are buildings which
as you approach pour their facades at your feet
in a rush of the purest substances.
There are no faces to be seen since all
that is human here is you.
Numbers are become animal forms: the pounce,
the adder and the lynx. The things you loved
are all shades of moss.
Your only index the very grains of sand.
And somehow the set of things has you again,
a fascination in love of self.


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