These are the first two poems from a special issue of THERMOS featuring Hunter Deely’s poetry. You can check back every couple days in the coming month for more of his poetry. For an introduction, see here.
The Bombing of Alphabet City
A flock of starlings descends on a dark tree.
A bomb detonates in reverse.
Drugged up and Texan and planning to join the Marines,
forget that once you bear witness to murder time
only moves one way.
Hold me close as you once did
his bloodstained jacket.
Force like birds the barrenness of memory upon this picture
until it shatters into a galaxy of dust in the lamplight. Think:
galaxies are just dust in many forms.
Think: Your skull a sheet of clear plastic
negatively charged, bristling with insomniac longings.
Remember the black boy who became a
constellation like the pattern on the starlings’ chests?
Double vision, waking dream, let
the particles collect like starlings
with vowels of night
with violent eyes
anarchist starlings in the eternal war
zone of sleepless words.
All along we were looking in the birds and the bullets for this: a bit
of anti-matter that fits in our eyes and says
meant to tell you before we annihilate
Men becomes coyotes every day.
A fern will curl inside an empty snail shell
if you are willing to ask it.
I watched a girl sprout wings with blue feathers.
There was blood, it was painful.
The scorpion and the lady. The ridges behind overlay
a love story that never happened.
A scorpion’s tail will become a fern if you ask it.
I like the feeling, when my teeth press against
someone else’s teeth. It’s like our deaths are touching.
It’s like the pressure is the plate at the Pacific rim
pushing up volcanoes. And at the feet of them
villages, a particular epic, seventeen species of songbird.
The last few mornings I vomited acorns and slept
the rest of the day. And then tonight, I opened the screen door
and felt the white paint rub off on my fingers, the wail
of it closing behind me, and I walked into the field
in blue light with my face aching. I saw an old man walking
at the edge of the field, stooped and wheezing, step behind
a cedar, from the west. A dog trotted out the other side.
I see the faces of my dead friends in animals. Deer
with green eyes and pale lips. Bears with broad noses.
In the evenings, we sit on the porch and listen
to country songs about bamboo.
You paint your nails with mercury.
I kiss your bones.
Your eyes are shells under invisible sand.
I’ve been a coyote. You were an antelope.
We go to sleep to the sound of hooves.
We push out of ourselves only to find we never existed.