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The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2020

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NOV 2020 Issue
Poetry

Riding Death


        (lost highway


   (when he was in his prime,


   when he was in his prime


   (break summer, paint fear













   (he was wild, a little wild (he’s


   dying (you can’t exhale (he’s


   dying (he’s asking why you


   love him













   (lost highway (kisses


   that we


   share across the sky (he


   is the drunk lane, the













   mayor, drunk lake,


   drunk


   in the lake, he’s so


   tired and he can’t


   (what













   (my father just feels Sidney


   Bechet, Hart Crane, Krazy Kat


   (now he doesn’t have any (he


   gives life (kisses that we


   share across


   the sky













   (lost highway


   (the book will save the book


   (oil will kill the world (he’s just


   trying to see, pay attention (he


   said













   (he said joy


   (he said feel this (blue green


   voice (he said violet, blue


   wind


   pushes river light, birches













   (lost highway


   (he’s dying in a town


   full of rabbits (he’s


   dying, lying on the


   couch


   (lost highway













   (he hates “sentimental slop” (hold


   his hand, he’s from Coney Island,


   he’s tougher


   than you


   (he says, when I squeeze your hand













   (I’m squeezing her hand


   (his mother in the room (his


   mother’s me (tell him (tell


   him (your mother


   loves you (lost highway













   (branches, paradise (are you blue,


   are you green, are you fire, are


   you gold (have you come, have you


   come, to sing to me, to sing to me













   (lost highway (drunk like coins, like


   coins (“our lifestyle is wrecking the


   planet for Christ’s sake” (she’s


   drunk like a gold coin, he’s drunk


   like a gold coin













   (the tv says the tv


   (farmers are farmers


   (corporations eat them


   (rabbits are perfect













   (there was always all this death,


    there was always a photo, a photo


   and money (rain in the street, a bus,


   and a photo of money













   (ice and the river (lost highway


   (blue night comes (no, no one


   (nobody dies (nobody loses (lost


   highway













   (where is the distance, where are the


   gym shoes, where are the toe nails,


   where is the pain, where are the


   toenails, please stop this screaming,


   please breathe my newsprint, my


   eyes don’t fit













   (lost highway (joy could (blue fire


   (torn blue (you (dear one (dear


   smart, shining you (dear you (my


   father’s what (my father’s rain


   becoming rain (lost highway













   (soft wind like a road


   (done (I wrote done


   (I tried to write don’t


   (don’t, don’t, don’t

Contributor

Joseph Lease

Joseph Lease’s critically acclaimed books of poetry include Testify (Coffee House Press, 2011) and Broken World (Coffee House Press, 2007). Lease’s poems “‘Broken World’ (For James Assatly)” and “Send My Roots Rain” were anthologized in Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology (Norton). Lease’s poem “Free Again (Why don’t people)” was published in The New York Times. He is a Professor of Writing and Literature at California College of the Arts.

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The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2020

All Issues