Thursday Three #11

Lisa JarnotIf you were to rap your fist on the counter at Malvern Books and say, “Oi! I want poetry!,” we would ask you (politely, although we’d like to point out there’s really no need for an oi!) what kind of poetry you’re in the mood for. And if you said, “Hmm… something contemporary, maybe inspired by the New York School, you know, post-Language avant-garde type stuff, with collage, and a hat tip to modernism, and with some nature thrown in for good measure,” we’d compliment you on your specificity and then run to the J section for a copy of Lisa Jarnot’s Joie de Vivre: Selected Poems 1992-2012.

“This is exactly what you’re looking for,” we’d say, pressing a copy into your rather demanding hands. “It’s feisty and experimental, and there are collages and daisies and lemurs, and it demands to be read aloud… and if you won’t take our word for it, you should at least listen to John Ashbery, who said this is a collection of ‘haunting, perplexing narratives of the inenarrable.’” At this point we hope you’d say, “Perfect!” and immediately purchase five copies. But if you needed any further persuasion, we’d throw in a couple of fun facts—Lisa Jarnot studied with Robert Creeley and works as a freelance gardener—and direct you to the three splendid Jarnot poems featured below. You’re welcome! Come back soon!

Christmas Prelude

O little fleas
of speckled light
all dancing
like a satellite

O belly green trees
shaded vale
O shiny bobcat
winter trail

Amoebic rampage
squamous cock
a Chinese hairpiece
burly sock

A grilled banana
smashes gates
and mingeless badgers

The asses of the
winter trees
rock on fat asses
as you please

Be jumpy
or unhinged
with joy
fry cakes
Staten hoy.

* * *

Brooklyn Anchorage

and at noon I will fall in love
and nothing will have meaning
except for the brownness of
the sky, and tradition, and water
and in the water off the railway
in New Haven all the lights
go on across the sun, and for
millennia those who kiss fall into
hospitals, riding trains, wearing
black shoes, pursued by those
they love, the Chinese in the armies
with the shiny sound of Johnny Cash,
and in my plan to be myself
I became someone else with
soft lips and a secret life,
and I left, from an airport,
in tradition of the water
on the plains, until the train
started moving and yesterday
it seemed true that suddenly
inside of the newspaper
there was a powerline and
my heart stopped, and everything
leaned down from the sky to kill me
and now the cattails sing.

* * *

Hockey Night in Canada

Oh Canada, you are melancholy today
and so am I, and here is the giant metal airplane
that fills the sky above the steam heat of my
dreams, beside decisions well between the
quiet that’s between us

and also do you think of the hibiscus
on your roadsides, Dutch, like bags of carrots
still heroic wrapped in snow upon the tiny
screens that show it to you, particular neighbor
who breathes, alive, asleep, beside the surface
of the ice, upon the moon in silver deep.