Level Best

Possibly one of that planet’s suns
licked it, while the others, jealous,
trying for reconfiguration,
stroked. Then some exotic, manic
current came from elsewhere.
With gravity – dreaming of turbulent,
safe, colorful gas-clouds but stuck
with ten Earthfuls of rock –
that was enough for life,
then sentience. The only natural silicon types
in the entire Local Group crawl
(they don’t see it as crawling)
between meter-high mountains
on sulfur-yellow plains.
(They perceive other colors.) Magma,
spewing weakly out then riding
a foot or two on the wind,
spatters them, tastes of nostalgia,
is the past, is the idea
of wanting. They leave bits of themselves
behind, in a kind
of hope both general and personal:
they breed with these. Their wars
are occasioned by and leave
nutritionless wastes; these are
forgotten, are forgetfulness.
Their cities are brief remembered parties.
Their stars are talkative – they’re in the middle
of a giant cluster – and their math first-rate:
without much interest,
they have deduced us
and everyone else. (Perhaps the concept
tree would attract them –
slow vertical systems! – but less than that
of salt.) They live their poetry:
epics of cumulative wandering
towards fanciful, always-provisional
goals. Elegiac statistics
when too much gets burnt or flakes off.
They plan to survive the heat-death,
the universe.
Deny that they lack erotic appeal.




At Anchor

Drifting at anchor at twilight,
sometimes the exhausted sea,
sometimes the city’s few lights
our backdrop. Across the water
a meditative music without beat,
heavy on flutes, derived from nothing,
suggesting nothing, not smugly
“spiritual” but potentially annoying,
stops. I don’t know who the others are,
they don’t know who I am,
but I establish myself quickly
with a quip, short works, a judicious
quotation (from Jünger, that the smell
of the sea is so vivid
because it combines birth and death), and
a reduction, easily enough learned
if need be, of self. The major
struggle is against being distracted
by the beauty of the women,
which is not, of course, their reason
for being. We discuss how art
could happily regress
now to a kind of classicism, subtly,
hermetically distinct versions
of a few themes. Cherry blossoms.
New gods. Perhaps poets
will each adopt one,
a specific, researched one
of the dead and speak for him or her,
“as they always have anyway”
says someone, pleasing me.
For my part, I renounce
loudly my pervasive gimmick
of dialogues among the dead, making them
curious, present, combative. Then one
of the women, who I gather
took the lead in refurbishing
this yacht, tells how mirrors
embossed with beer-labels, bins of cocaine,
hideous fabrics and videos followed
their owner overboard.





[Frederick Pollack is author of two book-length narrative poems, THE ADVENTURE and HAPPINESS, both published by Story Line Press. A collection of shorter poems, A POVERTY OF WORDS, 2015 from Prolific Press. He has appeared in Hudson Review, Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, Die Gazette (Munich), The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Representations, Magma (UK), Iota (UK), Bateau, Main Street Rag, Fulcrum, etc. Online, poems have appeared in Big Bridge, Hamilton Stone Review, Blackbox/Manifold, BlazeVox, The New Hampshire  Review, Mudlark, Occupoetry, Faircloth Review, Triggerfish, etc. He’s adjunct professor in creative writing at George Washington University.]

Copyright © 2015 by Frederick Pollack, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.