The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2013

All Issues
NOV 2013 Issue



he runs mac ‘n’ cheese through a coffee cone

I run mac ‘n’ cheese through a coffee cone
but make no special shout-out to irrelevance
it’s Thursday and my boy’s gone
ants slip across a countertop
tonight I’m my own reason
for registering objects onto life
stars, go be the spangles
in someone else’s dancehall
a simulacrum of collective action
insensate at this distance
while bright somewhere for someone
tonight I’m my own Dresden
with the fires, and the pen that writes it down











we found in the sky an old remembered thing

Through the ribbed hall I move continually
with my armored team, my

armored team

exuberant satellites:

fall anywhere,

break anything.









real widows

though lynchings don’t happen
exchanged for new spectacles

still there’s the mite
and slot where you drop it

affixed to the palace
that darkens the boomtown

in night’s surly dreaming
I went to resign there

you’re not a real widow,
we gave you your money

to spend on the pleasure
you could have abandoned

how great was the pleasure,
to die for while living?

Now leave us the money,
that box is our box.”










The stock’s eye shut and it yawned
Always their tranche is used badly—their dove

Is a creature with little of the love.
What they and their ken can cadge

From the bower, they cadge. But I
And my foot will make them work,

Stamp to upset the spirit lamp
Whose flames unpeeled our ceilings

Singeing life in open rooms
Where greenness ought to wander

Blackened a little, but not unloved.
You go: unhook the latch

And call the lift. Although you have held
Up a household, it’s nice

To simply go now, alone in the green
That becomes you, that is awesome.

The thinkers who think
Have expended much energy—

At long last, just the opa.









in the backlands of the province

The bones each believe in the hollows of their sleeping.
Singing to them doesn’t work to wake them,

it’s sleep as shows up in the backlands of the province,
as it goes on in time and the scene develops tears. Why

solder sick hearts to sick raindrops? Falling downward
together, loosed by the rage of undoing the world

to its poles. How is it our sails keep up with
our sorrows? We are told we are led,

Now tell us how water is all the same water
since dinosaurs trod the world’s past. We last.









to an indie friend in havasu

They will not want you any closer here.
Of the many who may need you to administrate the ruins
most stand behind their desks and are pure business.
The sky, their sky, an escalation of lake
Shifts blue quanta from duct to dam to tap
while inside you relax with your images
as if in a floral blaze on a graded incline
to a mountain where your style,
upper item on the invoice, is a charging
for your coming as the obverse of their dream.

Film sitting in a camera, film is dead
though light still drops its Roman coins
for Roman kids to find. Because
the body’s greeds have come at last to bore you,
books bought on being happy and alive;
the sun, whose broad estate neglects the bookish,
it hasn’t left you even one centime.









a dimity, cottony song

Snake, be quick—excuse of words
to make me sharp and want to write
waits in metaphor’s sleepless taunt.
People use stones! Compose things
slow to weed sounds boys invent
from drone’s new low. Saxifrage
in young stands lovers meet behind,
nervous to dismiss significance
Ur-names inventing Ur-things
in the flowers, bees reconciling workers
to their combs. Quiet writing,
don’t strike ideas I let be composed
but through that flow of breath that is not
my breath, split ore from rock
that’s not my ore, my rock.









a recording of you singing

Just as my prosody
     rose as excess
I smiled in the middle of it—

a recording of you singing

     husbandry, meet sacrifice
          tears collect
      on the dirndl’s hem

the sleepy Brahmaputra
has swamped the university
its towers miss their gilding

     I make no decisions
     I’ve stopped asking questions

If I sit by this section
of riverbank, will it bring
my lost quanta of grace









thanks to the 2110+ participants

Because the mirror is broken on your Prius
I have come to believe more firmly
In the purpose of your conference—
A need to explain the broken
To the broken, a feeling of being uneasy
Looking backwards at destruction,
Boom dropped through the roof
Of tableau after gold tableau. I’m not so afraid
Of hands not getting dirty, the humus being rotored
In an academic field, but your dark hair
In its surplus, through the bent glass
On the Prius—I choose this to remember
From my visit to the conference,
The thingness of things
Yoked in shared obsolescence,
The structure of you moving
While structure itself never moves.









he accounts for the art’s current state

Either in spirit a mocking renewal
or attempts to replace the Alps
they make no sense
unless you should turn to avoid them
beside the tiny grains of intuition
squabbling there over who dropped them,
taught them to glow on the shrines.
Once dreams stop, then the coitus
it’s best to be polemic—
sun is sense is field is form
and after, all gets splendid.









in a cab with you in urdu

I am fed up with this world
And want to be somewhere else
But it is no problem—I have ceased to believe
In disjunction, the trouble over choices
In a too-short life. I want to go
Outside the snow’s dominion
In a cab with you in Urdu, singing
Through the beatific traffic, ruining
My housing for a song. Take from me
Split heart’s two desires—
They support me no longer
They’re free now for you, you can use them
Use them to summon new blooms.



Rodney Koeneke

Rodney Koeneke is the author of Etruria (Wave Books, forthcoming 2014), Musee Mechanique (BlazeVOX, 2006), and Rouge State (Pavement Saw, 2003). He lives in Portland, Ore.


The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2013

All Issues