Poetry

from Lost Horizon

The way water puddles differently in different cities

                how trees hold rain   how

buildings carry rain
around flashing and chimneys. How fog settles or wanders —

how dew gems grass or pregnancy tests.

                        The confluence
presses down on the heart of the continent.

                Pine-needled mud under a wet tissue:
condensation in a plastic bag full of trash
    stuffed in the rotted top of a cut-off phone pole.

        Guard rail tagged   tagged again.

                        Lighthouse families
bead the coastline with swinging mirrors that never land on land.

An eroding bank gripped in roots’ mossy fists —
the circumference of a hull   a pit

                radar radius floating   tossed   starlit

shore-wrecked
                into the compass, the calipers

centuries of frozen ice down the crystal lattice of the universe —

a picture in a locket’s frame
            that loveless location. Mourning doves in twos
                at the widow’s perch   as if

trees had no roots   the ocean no currents   as if grain could grow
in prow-cut furrows.

            Through fathoms no secrets rise up to meet me.

    Barbs of goose down prick through the thread count.

                The evening tide pulls swash
over the heads of those who died
            undressing weather-women with their eyes.

The minister’s secretary unfolds the paperclip from

    the bottom of the drawer — the targeting program

searches the millionth chamber of
            the reef's bleached bark for a sweet spot

in the seabed shale. Somewhere past the space debris
                    and bridal magazines:

the smell of chamomile growing in the gravel
                of mice in the grain in
            the silo’s froth.

Bubbles in the latex paint expand against the sheetrock.

                Offshore princes in corner offices
            prance witty   clean as scrubbed clams —

clenched as bunting in cold rain. Finger roulette underdeck
                        in the tanker’s blink.

The different tones of different lights. DVDs in the media cabinet
        in the mess room.

                My hands smell of mustard
                    from the sandwich.

The whale’s eye black in inky enmity — the burrowing barnacle

or the Carlotta drawn to the wrong lights:

                hull grinning ear to ear to be
                nearer things heard from outer space.

Her hair still wet in the center of the ponytail —

the robin’s breast color of the nebula’s little belly   the coral pattern

            in a Kansas rock-outcrop

menthol butts in the parking lot. Fried peanuts. Aluminum.

Eminent domain. Headstones pulled out by the root. Between

        basin and range, derricks in the vineyard
        pound the chest of the first victim of time travel —

pockets full of permafrost jiggling like jelly

            mammoths thawing soft as plant rot.

Heavy metals at the crash-site:

            boutonniere in the corner of the fire circle —

sunshine through fungus-covered branches

a burr stuck to a striped sock with some kind of pattern on it.

The smell of the new roof. The smell of bruised petals

   patches of devil’s paintbrush sprayed by the mower.

Weather balloons   atmosphere — water towers   irrigation systems
                        washes   sluices.

Depots near the docks near the tracks   lumberyard near the mill
near the old path of the river like a crooked finger.

The construction crew sprays down the demolition site to keep
        the dust from drifting.

The chemical plant outside city limits burns bald the banks.

            Different tones to different bridges.

Dredges sort particle by particle

            through the bladder’s bloody body of water

                the human liver the size of a

shoebox for a frog — rain in the leafy gutter
wet wood under the shelter. Ants dry in the core of the log.

            Petals curl back under their own weight

curl more under the weight of water.

Juniper trees grow twisted in the Pacific breeze that
                    separates bark from flesh.

Yellowish foam floats in the bay from soap and
            shampoo from outdoor showers.

in the backyards of the cedar-clapped Cape Cods.

                Napkins flutter under silverware.

Edgar, matte finish,   hands by side   right leg slightly forward.

            Tall child   headless   white.

    Square bale props
                blue skies marble backdrop.

Picnic scene —
                        tidal pool

sparklers tickle the unlit faces
            pinch their fingers.

                    The moon cuts time

    into portions   souvenirs — snow globes

a pot of water on the wood-stove;
            an orange peel studded with cloves —

the seamless walls of grain elevators
            power plant chimneys   the legs of the rig —

concrete mix poured ceaseless into

        the ceaselessly moving frame. My heart turns like
blown glass in tongs.

Contributor

Nathaniel Farrell

Nathaniel Farrell was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania. He holds a doctorate in English Literature from Columbia University in New York City. He is the author of Newcomer (Ugly Duckling Presse) — a personae poem narrated by an anonymous soldier and set in an undefined military campaign — and Lost Horizon (UDP), a long poem inspired by the American mall, interstate landscapes and suburban pastorals. He teaches composition at Washington University in St. Louis and hosts a weekly experimental music program on 88.1 KDHX, St. Louis' community-supported, freeform radio station. His collages have been exhibited at Bushel (Delhi, NY), and Some Other Ways — his collaborative poetic project with Jessica Baran on the first month of Trump's presidency — was part of the World Chess Hall of Fame's Imagery of Chess exhibition.

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