from: Leafmold

He had to stop looking at pictures because he couldn’t stop looking at pictures. The rich clap cilantro-fragranced hands, not really getting it. Whose world is male-dominated? Whose is not? Had to stop eating to stop yearning. Had to stop drinking to stop drowning. Whose world is mixed-up media? His intention was small, powerful. Her intention was practice, solely. All completely valid. Why even do it? Which way to the free wine and cheese? Yeaing, never naying. Smells like leather. Lie about the time so that others miss the very finest parts. Would you say that making art to better suit your audience’s wallet is fair play? Whatever you do, go abroad to make yourself appear more credible and interesting. Raise your hand if you love the smell of feathers burning. The cost is calculated in metres. Raise your hand if the artist’s bio means more to you than the canvas. Raise your hand if you are happy with your habits. Frida Kahlo’s nonexistent hand climbs from the dashboard’s red genie lamp icon, blooms like a thunderhead. The Maumee, black as a mirror’s back, sidles into view thoughtlessly, and how glorious, how pout-swollen. A screen door makes a sound like a fire starting. Welcome to the painting. Raise your complex hand.

One day on the road to Solidwater, Yellowfoot hears a noise: a screech like a heron squawk but higher pitched and drawn out, up and down, then up and up and up. Between a capsized truck and a high mound of doorknobs, chain link, and rebar, he finds the frame of a mammoth coyote with the noise fluttering around and then out of its ribcage. Yellowfoot kneels and sees a man, skin a bluish tint, hair flattened to a sheen. “How did you come to this place?” Yellowfoot asks, crossing his legs to rest just inside the open vault of the coyote. The man smiles. “Will you find my granddaughter, tell her something for me?” Yellowfoot says nothing. “Tell her she was my favorite. Tell her that if you find her.” Yellowfoot nods. “What is that you’re holding?” “This? You’ve never seen a violin?” The man plays awhile before Yellowfoot has to ask him to stop. The noise makes him want to be sick and to be glad all at once. It makes him want to evaporate. Yellowfoot gets up to leave. “Will you tell her, please?” Outside the coyote, the Ten-Year’s-Rain at last begins to fall.

To know what shape loves takes. To offer pain to the self as supplication. Chickadees and their allies versus jays, crows, and their allies. Hawks on their own, versus all. The countless minor battles constituting summer. The kids of this neighborhood arrive home via bus and at first their innocence and freedom is enviable, but then the undiluted ache of childhood rises along the backbone and into the adult mind. Take the oath of life. Right here. Right now. Right away. With whatever color of pen is nearest. This happens now or never: four cans of Raid and a badminton racket later, the inert shift boss’s carpenter bees return. Told you so. So hungry: exhilarating, trashy, humble, nourishing. The first sentence isn’t even uttered and the timer sings didididididididi. The afternoon’s morale becomes ecstatically private to the point of degradation. On either side of the narrow walk the grass grows differently, high and low. The boy didn’t know what a nectarine was so you gave him one. To see a place for where it is. The motherfucking sky. The soon-to-be. The satellite trees. You have ten seconds to spell the word amanitin before it kills you. You have the apologies of marsh and field alike.


F. Daniel Rzicznek is the author of two poetry collections as well as four chapbooks, most recently Live Feeds (Epiphany Editions, 2015). He is coeditor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry: Contemporary Poets in Discussion and Practice (2010). His recent poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Beloit Poetry Journal, Volt, Hotel Amerika, TYPO, The Adroit Journal, and elsewhere. He teaches writing at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.
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