Joshua Harmon: Two Poems from Le Spleen de Poughkeepsie

Joshua Harmon is a book. A brand-new book.

We return today to our normal blend of featured poems and interviews, beginning with some new works by Joshua Harmon, whose first collection of poetry was a THERMOS favorite.

Joshua Harmon’s most recent book, Le Spleen de Poughkeepsie, was awarded the 2010 Akron Poetry Prize, and will be published in early 2011. He is also the author of two previous books- Scape, a collection of poems, and Quinnehtukqut, a novel-as well as of a chapbook, The Poughkeepsiad. He no longer lives in Poughkeepsie.

Two Poems from Le Spleen de Poughkeepsie

It’s cinematic, the blank billboard at the edge of the woodlot: available. The houses are available, and an ersatz drunkenness is available, and a little snow completes the night. A plow blade chips away at a forfeited afterlife. The soul uploads winter on a dial-up line and awaits affirmation. Spruce boughs bend against primitive roof, and as I start to forget the legal loudness of a muffler on a truck painted with red and yellow flames, an uncontrollable restraint stretches itself between cold sheets and grinds its teeth for hours. Sparks from a jumper cable. Speech bubble filled with black marks. The way moonlight stains snow that’s thawed and re-frozen so many times calls my bluff. The wind still says “As if…”


Amid the last sentences of rusting
public sculptures in early-hours fog,

everything disorganizes itself
the way a ground-floor window left

open overnight does justice to
this city: the numbers suggest that

the woman watching three generations
of automobiles sliding along the street

and the crisis in a microsuede couch
with a hand-lettered sign reading “bedbugs”

resents her inevitabilities less than
the man who can continue only by turning away

from the grievances he marries to a lost
argument like noise decays in empty space:

slowly: all the intolerable surfaces, but still
I could stare out her window all day

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