The Vivisectionist of Nob Hill

New Orleans broke my heart. So did Utah.

I’m the son of both and neither.

All these places break boys’ hearts.

Send them crying to their rooms on Sutter.

When I was young my dad collected frogs.

He dissected them. Kept them in glass jars.

Pressed quarters in my palm to love me.

The frogs stared at the world, unblinking.

I walked to town in roadwork season.

Smelled the bitumen and gripped the coins.

Love was the soft road leading from my father’s den.

I’m older now and I preserve things too.

Here’s the glass. Crystal’s my formaldehyde.

Tonight a man will come and kneel before me.

I’ll push his head back, trace his throat, and kiss him.

Then I’ll take the straightedge from my chest.

The scalpel stolen from the box below the frogs.

I will cut him open. Save him from New Orleans.

And Utah. The fog swirling outside the window.

 

by Graham Coppin

 

The Last Quarter

            (a Tom Waits kind of drunk poem for

            a poet friend who calls himself Moonface)

 

Sing Motherfucker!  …Sing!

Like Moonface in the dark, in the cold,

‘cause that Jack’s off the track

he ain’t never coming back

 

…he had his long-johns on.

 

Nah, funerals ain’t funny,

but ya gotta laugh,

‘cause he ain’t had nothing from nobody

‘cept Sally once, or maybe Sue–

there’s two women with wishes

for more than the dishes

that just got old

cold Moonface

 

…with his long-johns on

 

Yeah, Sing Motherfucker!  Sing!

–like the devil saying he’s sorry

after all these years

‘cause that Jack’s off the track

he ain’t never coming back

 

…he had his long-johns on.

 

by William Waters 

 

William Waters is an associate professor, associate chair, and director of composition in the Department of English at the University of Houston Downtown. Along with Sonja Foss, he is coauthor of Destination Dissertation: A Traveler’s Guide to a Done Dissertation. His research and teaching interests are in writing theory and practice, the history of the English language, linguistics, and modern grammar.

Celestine

Fragile girl; the delicate grass-blade’s dewily soft sheen

trances me, sends me into a liquid dream or reverie;

Novitius symbolum of I, the belfry, and you-

Great bell for the angelus, siphoning to my growerly

Every furrow and bone of the sphere’s celestial

stars; Belle’s water; “indicator of the reborn sun:”

The radiant pavonids of your eyes; you pull my dreams

Right from my throat, bestowing to my crown the gift;

Traumas eclipsed by divine ascendening frequencies

Of autotelically-wide, shy- blue translucent eyes,

Eyes I recognize to be just as true and soft as those

Of Hazel: sheathed in her bright robes, inscribing me

In rainbow body and jewels, dispelling samsara. Great

Mahayana vehicle; sweet recalling dreams

 

by Matthew Scott Bartlett

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