for a long time I didn’t see them at first it was all just indeterminate red and black shapes like facts about which I have mixed feelings but first with my body then my mind I began to perceive faint figures striding the surface as if a child holding a piece of chalk at the last moments of day had absently over all those numbers faces and trains allowed her hand to trace translucent sentient monitor beings then the man with the green hose at night mostly washed them away I look at them like I am looking down at my life in the middle of it they seem without heads scarily graceful I can see a whole life of travels and doing weave such beings like thread strung around nails to make shapes which was how I failed geometry staring down at what I could not understand the painting says as we move we draw them and when we are gone they go on to finish what we could not I call them ghost birds if you know what they really are don’t tell me
(for the painting “Emmy Lou” by Robert McChesney)
The newspaper said the bank deserved to pay for its reprehensible transgressions.
Even the bankers agreed. But where to find its giant shadow face?
The next feeding isn’t for centuries. How to force its shadow body?
And what about the shareholders weeping gently in the alternate boardroom?
Should they have to sell yet another painting? Footsteps out in the hall
sound gently ominous like the future at last
had gotten up and begun searching. In the room with the copier
the hum makes me feel like the whole building is alive.
At night when I should be sleeping next to my love instead I wander
another life where I’m at home with my television wife.
She tells me eat your sorrow. Those are your just deserts
where you must go without water to beat that dead horse one more time
until it laughs and coughs up another monstrously jeweled president.
-- Matthew Zapruder is the author of four books of poetry and Why Poetry(Ecco, 2017). An Associate Professor in the MFA at Saint Mary’s College of California, he is also Editor at Large at Wave Books. He lives in Oakland, CA.