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Hello my friends I love you I’m late. Had you
known me when Julius Caesar
knew me you’d say I had evil horns and couldn’t stand
the sight of men. I never was any kind
of cool, I ran
hot and awkward and every time I sang
I cried. Now velvety and with only nubs
for weapons I lie softly chewing the food
that will kill me, fattening into the form
of our hero’s next meal whereby I
fuel with my body the muscle that shoots
the steal peg in our head. By I I mean obviously
seared meat chunks still mooing in that
epic poem where the women all sit quietly
weaving and bathing
the bodies of men though some do dissemble
and flirt without shame. But the whoring
female servants swing so satisfyingly
from their necks at the end. The goddesses
seem exempt from that crap. But they are
also jocks. Athena leads the slaughter, she sanctifies
Ulysses so we can feel how hot
he is how violent and arrogant and cool
and hot like sexy
hot not blushing
as I always am in this dress
of meat. Meat skirt. I,
my friends
cannot help you, born
into this war to end
all wars that
won and will
go on. I mean our
favorite national tale involves two men
on a dusty street shooting each other with guns. Not
too much plot, so it’s easy
to remember, no poets required, just lots
of glistening cuts. Moo, I pose for you
in my shining dress. I’m the flesh
that after it’s flayed keeps
crying and crawling back









Poem called More
                                                            for Brandon Brown and Evan Kennedy

Every life has its Taylor
Swift relic
bones, I mean the glacier
named for her—it’s
melting so we pray
for it. Right? But we flame
too hard for this
neverending war. Stars,
as in, we are
objects of desire, we are
who we R, that is
fucked by the very
air moist with the blood
of the Super Holy™ soldier
telling you this tale: Saint
Francis the archetypal drunken whoring
warrior in shining golden armor stood
bolt upright in his tomb two hundred years
after he died and his blind eyes flashed fire. The Saint
I am is trying to tuck this
into your tiny hip pocket. It’s innocent
I promise, a present, all the shells and feathers
of this war with it’s stinking
sink hole. But don’t worry, for
real, we can bleach all this out
and start over with some new
unpronounceable people and their beautiful
sparkling jihadis, you know
like the commercial, “Don’t worry
we’ll make more.” Don’t worry. All of this
is ours from shore to shining
neverever. Ever. Like that song Ms. Swift sang for us, the one
that made everybody melt and hold
their hats to their sweaty
hope chests. I built this™, and my drone
reads my mind, like the ships of the ancient Phaeacians. We are
getting back together, we can
start over, we will always have
more, which to the Saxons meant greater,
stronger, the rights of the Conqueror. We came.
We vino’ed. We karaoked. And you know how
that makes us feel. Like Saint Francis
before he was poor. We believe, clap
your hands. We can always have more.











Shhhhhh. This poem breaks down
electron bonds inside you. I’m sorry
for breathing
as we all do
asbestos slivers
from the floor tiles
in the jiu-jitsu dojo. I’m sorry for the human
handpunch to your
poemface. But don’t you think
this violent art best proves
our love
for Sister Sledge? I’ve got all my sisters here
on stakes about
to air kiss you
with flame. My own white hot
karategi absorbs
the war drones of the wealthy
crammed up at this art bar. Sorry
I did burn to ash
all your click baits of the Sirens
riding bikes
across a shark’s back. The Internet quiz says I’m an oceanic
white tip, your worst Shark
Week nightmare, known for frenzy feeding
on shipwrecked humans. When I sleep I dream
like sharks
who never sleep. It’s stupid
to understand how everything has died and then
try—what—to warn you? Old English
“sing” has no related forms in other tongues. I’ve lost
my thread again. We get them back
by snagging them on hooks, slicing off their fins for soup, and
tossing the bleeding body back into the water. Sorry
Earth for having killed you sorry everyone the universe so
sorry, full of sores, the sisters who will never
be my own, the plastic shard
called god. It seems I’m not
the only person on the Internet
to ask if the Titanic people died from sharks. No, they froze
to death of course. I blow
my raft first-class and float, snagging clams and shoving
ice cream down my throat so I can state,
you know, for the record, I never did feel glad
to be here, or if I did I did
in spite of
all of you breeders. JK! I know! Not nice! I’m just jealous
we never could get our own
zygote on the hook
inside me. Oooh, confessional territory. Sorry. It’s a first
-world problem. I mean everything. It’s all
your fault. And mine. But we can still have all the ice cream
we can eat for life. We keep it cool by sending
super-warming gases to the atmosphere. I’m sorry, but you know
those sharks don’t care. Let’s raise
our instruments and make the best
sounds we can make until we sink. It’s a nice thought right,
like a rubber ducky in a snow
-white gi, or is that an angel’s robe and golden halo, wisp
of cloud across the final glacier? I know, we can
cram ourselves inside each other’s
shark skins, suck on our inhalers and finally spill it all—just like
those four drum beats quick before the first electric
keyboard notes I press to my white ear one thousand times an hour building
through guitar the bass more strings and horns til those true
sisters break out into song. We are family, a family
of sharks who when they get excited even
eat each other, who even try to keep on feeding once
they’re disemboweled. Ok
here’s my confession: I never knew kung fu
I just liked the sounds of words
in my own mouth and struck a pose to feel them out. You try it
too, like getting French-kissed from the inside by an angel in the light
of all the films we ever cried to. Come on, tell me
everything. Get up everybody. Sing.










                                                            for Andrea Murray

The albatross hardly showed up
in that poem. I cleaned out
after it the whole time weeping, mouth
so dried out I had to suck from my own
salty blindness to say I’m sorry
about all the screaming
Jeezy fans in the bank
that used to be your bedroom, I mean
Jesus, screaming Jesus
fans where you shared your last love
with your last lover before she died. That was low,
I know, like Subway low, like bread puffed up
with yoga mat chemicals. Yes I did
steal everyone’s detournement I did it
last summer in my sleep on fire
on the land line just a normal
phone call carrying the voice of that
albatross with its stinking breath
from the afterlife. I’m inside it still
falling down to my tiny library
of angel-headed monster cells weeping in
their cancer juice shooting chapbook
after chapbook at Justin
Bieber screaming we love you please
don’t get up just for us your fans
forever kickboxing gods in the face so you can relax
with your sizzurp. I drop these names
so my young friends will
not forget me. Here’s one: the Jewish refugee who stood
on a street corner in London in 1933. He used to soak in the tub
for three hours a day to get ideas. This day the idea
struck him standing on a street corner in London for a nuclear
chain reaction, which he quickly patented. He wrote his own
Ten Commandments: Number 4. “Do not destroy what you
cannot create.” Number 5. Untranslatable German pun. Hmm.
Things that make you go hmm to quote Brandon Brown quoting,
you know. The man, Leo Szilard, slapped
his lizard gloves against his thigh, fist
bumped Einstein and went off
to build that bomb. Ok, no that’s historically
irresponsible. Please don’t repeat my errors
Justin Bieber don’t repeat
your own. Please don’t patent your own sizzurp cups out of
Styrofoam. No really, I worry, I’m lying here with this
stinking albatross carcass. It was never a burden
in the poem, it never had that physical heft. The bird
around the neck is more like Hester Prynne, the 1995
Demi Moore version, the scarlet A—a mark
of guilt but not even subtle or symbolic, like, wow, I know
what you did last summer, it’s hanging there rotting
on your chest. For real, I know what you did. You can
dress it up with a patent and drown it in
cough syrup. I can still smell it.










Allison Cobb

ALLISON COBB is the author of Born2, Green-Wood, Plastic: an autobiography, and After We All Died. She lives in Portland, Oregon, where she co-curates the reading, art, and performance series The Switch.


The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2015

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