Two Poems by Eric Sneathen
The Planet Moon
People are idiots, but I am from San Francisco
(The cat sniffs me, so I sniff her right back)
—Not that I can afford it, even in this proximity
This gesture of shifting shoulder blades as
The pen slows down. I hope I have beautiful
Handwriting in the future, an end
To what’s wrong in this wrong world, but not
The world. I find it terrifying: have feelings;
Include angers; real quick, and where to put it.
Paul says the slant of your handwriting
Is the dead giveaway of desire. The text leans
Forward to tell whoever’s listening, I want this
or that away. I want this body to continue
And then go back to I don’t know where.
I find it comforting (as Agnes rolls against
The hardwood sun) to know the ocean
Isn’t from our world, but slowly built up
By meteors exhaling little puffs of ice
For uncountable eons. The moon keeps
Twisting it / Imagine it / See it on YouTube
How many years we’d need to sit down
And “chill” to breathe a ocean like ours
Into being. It appears destructive, to destroy
Such blankness. I think we’re doing it now:
The point of a pen scratching any surface.
Wonderful And All My Nothing
I am not a warm laughter or solitude. This is
Not my relationships, the palm fronds clap
Together in a balmy breeze. I am not the smell
Of my grandma’s skin, metallic shines the loam
Of fields. No trace of footprints, freshly fallen
Snow. He won’t dip his toes into the nocturnal
Lake, naked frog song and reeds. This can’t
Hear it, the water cascading over the edge,
The quickening my heartbeat when my body’s
Pressed with love, “You taught me something.
You said something I needed to hear that I
Didn’t know I needed.” Food made with love
—I won’t be—Miguel, the waves of my friends
Playing football (as in soccer). This isn’t my son
Or my wife or my work refined into a postscript
I write out to the horizon. It isn’t helpful: a lot
Of trees already dead, still standing there like
A joke told my Grandpa once. Peonies unlatch
From my own need for something magnificent.
I’m not a breakfast table our cat sits down for
Her lot in life, the powder of brown pellets
Stuck to her patient lips. I figure my no-good
Attitude is my signature. I can’t flatten worlds,
Or even a bouquet of commas, to send up
A colon lets the air breathe through grammar.
All my attempts to make sex, to take an SSRI,
Conceptually speaking, I’m not just a body
Of water, a significant aberration, stepping off
Stones. I can’t bench myself in a busy terminal
To watch the people scatter and make up
Stories about where they’re going into blood
Turns over its leaves for you. It won’t be a clear
Day after calling in sick but not actually being
Sick. I am not being honest about who I am.
Untangling knots, I can’t resist the cloister,
The masks other hands have made. I can’t be
Alone for hours and hours and hours if you’re
Here with me again, one more sound of you
Won’t let me try again. No one spreads justice
Like a picnic of picking out summer berries
And melons. No changing things into better,
Flipping reality like a snowglobe gets flipped.
When a friend drops a banner or asks to fuck
Something up in coordinated efforts this thing
Can’t ask. No worries in the grain of memory,
The Paris of every moment I walk thru each
One of my languages, reflexively. I don’t myself.
Didn’t you take a shower after fisting me like
That? No sleep in the wormhole out of doors;
All day in sun, which isn’t where I’ve made it.
Uncorking some inner resource, histories gone
Up through my spine, been there to count
The taps of his boots I’ve been so close, like
Dirty plates at summer camp, layer upon layer.
And the rain can’t conjure the specific after-
Word of petrichor, damp and warm under
Patches of needles, no steam from autumn
Storms. Each part of my mouth fails each part
Of every word as it passes the throat, tongue,
Teeth vibrate and click to cut the sound into
Shapes. Like your name, the one you rise
To hear, your mother’s second or third name
I won’t trace it, lightly. His brow to my fingers
I don’t fall in love when I’m not supposed to.
Could be everyday, but I can’t. I won’t light
Paint light / Despair written through morning
With hot black coffee, orange sheets in bed.