Nine Poems

1. A warning from the poet

To all the corrupt and seething
ultra-violent powers of the world: I warn you,

I have spent all summer pumping iron
in the sun, and I am strong; yesterday,

finding grim kings out of reach,
I picked up a local restaurant and threw it

at my girlfriend, who only whimpered
in response. But this

is evidence of my enormous strength
and rage, of which you’ll soon be a victim,

once I re-direct it more properly at you,
you who seem to have a divine right

to be sons of bitches. All my life I’ve witnessed
those who I love taking it, elephant-sized, in the neck, while

those I detest glimmer and thrive unmeekly
on the sauce of their innocent meat.

Pigfuckers, with whom I share
so much unwanted human blood: a poet

with biceps large and abstract as taxes, bellowing
through pirate radio, will soon rule you.


2. My journey through shit and failure

At sixteen I began to write poetry because
of a deep spiritual yearning: I wanted to fuck

hot millions of girls. Years later in my sorrow,
scribbling with charcoal on the underside of a bridge,

I realized that I should have picked up a guitar
and strummed and strummed, the way

I’m doing now in my extreme solitude. An ideal
artist’s circumstance, I’m told: My apartment

was sculpted from eighteenth-century cat feces.
My ill fortune is out of date, overexplored, and won’t make

any good songs. The form of these poems is arbitrary.
My bank account is a pile of dead sand-fleas.

Believe me, all you who are a human wreck: I’m with you,
and my bitching will not cease until the last pine tree

that I loved to climb as a child has been felled
and shredded. Out of an old country song I come:

my luck was run over by a lawnmower, I’m told,
the guardian angel I imagined has been beheaded.


3. My dreams and successes

I wanted to be a man made of razors with eyes
like beams of light–how far have I succeeded?

It’s been a success, so far: vodka makes the eyes gleam
and bones poke through like blades when one subsists

on nothing but a plate of noodles once a week. I stood
heartless behind cash registers and in the steaming wreck

of many an american restaurant kitchen, working
as they call it, assembling the meaninglessness

of total malevolent strangers, explaining myself
to the wind on the way home after bruising my fist

on the idiocy of the christian calendar, which hangs
over all our lives with the drool and stink

of the dead and slimy body which it celebrates. The fools
multiply like ferns and run the world, while the smart

and worthwhile starve to death on scraps. Loving the idea
of having children, afraid to raise them within the confines

of a thusly united state, I’ve masturbated many a homeless
genius from my helpless loins, and cried out in ruined cars.


4. Nature is a one-trick painter

You realize one day while nursing a familiar sunset
in your glass; nature after twenty-five years of staring

doesn’t seem particularly creative–it repeats itself
like Jackson Pollock in the pale of every evening.

One day it may, similarly, crash into its own forests
with a car made from the circling demons of its art,

without our much-lamented help. The clouds I wrote about
so gleefully in preschool have turned to turds while I slept.


5. I will now talk about love

It’s true I’ve often been in love: with cats and dogs,
even ostriches, with kids playing on the jungle gym,

remembering my toddler joys,
and with many creative homosexuals…

three times with girls in varying forms
(though their cores were similar), but often

I am tired of being in love and want
to take the advice of St. John of the Cross

(related to me by T.S. Eliot), and stop loving
created beings altogether. Yet there’s so little

to love, and we yearn to find uniqueness
in human form, everyone needs drinking buddies

even if they drink nothing but water. Also I’m told
by every drunken teacher that I need to spend time

among the populace if I want to write in modern speech,
which apparently I’m not doing: I’ve proudly lost interest

in the piddling currents of my time and only want
eternal thundering music; am told that instead

I waste my time complaining
in the voice of an angel, fallen.


6. The diary of Waslav Nijinski

I’m told that my father went crazy, but he never
wrote any interesting books on the experience,

unlike Nijinsky, whose Diary I always read to re-establish
my own ridiculous semblance of sanity and intelligence,

the earthly version of which I copied from somewhere
less pure and more bookish than the mountain streams

I swam when I was younger than a mosquito in the spring.
Who needs crafted metaphor and image in a world full

of helicopters and pornography? A Vietnam veteran
in a tiny shithole we shared for weeks once said

to me, after hearing me in flaming voice read Nijinsky’s diary
out loud from the opposing bunk: The Best Book Ever Written;

I know where this dancer is coming from, he understood
the truth I knew in war and can’t forget: God is a sarcastic

bitter motherfucker, not fond of ballet, and this is no new truth. I’m sorry that
I went to hell and couldn’t come back with anything better.


7. Leaves

I’m running out of space to sit in this world. It’s easy,
a favorite singer of mine once murmured, to see through

so much common illusions at once that one feels
like a leaf blowing in the wind. And yet those

seeming firmly planted and well-clad with illusion
on this planet’s coat, when you watch them from far above,

seem similarly flimsy: leaves blowing in the same wind,
over sidewalks, in and out of armored cars

and candied houses, soon swept out; leaves carrying
in their stems important briefcases full of information

soon erased, leaves riding up and down escalators
sweating as if the world were about to end, clamping down

and fucking heartily in hotels and expensive homes,
but in the end two lonely leaves, lying in a small cotton box

next to one another, sapless and unable even to cry, having drifted
so far from the tree. Let us be seeds, and grow to stand apart from them.


8. Observations on my time and on the time of my time

It’s harder than a dick in spring
to sleep soundly and be a genius

and the pain of wanting to skinny-dip without
thinking of war, without missing violently

the memories of Clintonian years when those we bombed
were somehow less significant, and seemed further away,

is as intolerable as a pink, rosy and innocent rectum
being stuffed with napalm. The reason, however,

that I am going mad with grief in supermarkets, while others
drive expensive cars happily over the same cliff

that I am lamenting, must be genetic. Why else
would anyone especially cry out, since everyone is wounded?

And again: It’s harder than a nipple under a worshipped tongue
to sleep soundly and be a genius


9. The atomic bomb

In a suicidal letter to a cute girl, though she’s only sixteen (but so
intelligent, I swear), I cried out with the vehemence of Jeremiah

that I could think of no positive act or invention
to match the dismal immensity of the atom bomb.

She argued sensibly for me to think of more intimate
and simple acts, her antithesis of mushroom clouds blossoming,

suggested that eating pussy might make me
more useful. “It feels like an inner atom bomb to us ladies”

she exclaimed, her prose bright as a bluejay eating seed. I replied
with great maturity and (felonious intent) that though an increase in cunninglingus

might not uninvent the atom bomb, I would certainly go
down on her     in a daze of gratefulness     if ever she came up

from her grey New York
to my green New Hampshire.

Luke Buckham is a prolific contributor to Spread.