two more poems in the march shredness tradition: amorak huey

ars poetica: poison triptych

(reprinted from The Museum of Americana)

1. Talk Dirty To Me

Tell me about the salt, the sweet, the spray,

the sound you stole from your first band,
your system for beating addiction.
Tell me how hard the rain, how wet the hot,
how under the over, how fist the thirst,

the worst and the list and the leaning,

cover me with your language. Let me taste
tequila on your fingers, the devil’s

in the darkest corner,
form follows function—

be careful with your tongue.

Tell me my imperfections are charming,
my fire is worth the burn, my flesh
worth the ink, my strings

worth plucking—careful again—

tell me we’ve both got plenty to lose—
tell me you’re thinking the same thing.


2. Nothin’ but a Good Time

Oh, I am nothing if not a good time.
I am asymmetrical. I am far more
than the sum of my thinning hair

and my excellent sleeping ability.
I am foil folded into a silver swan
around your leftover ribs.

I am a guitar solo that goes on too long,
so very much too long.
I am a personal ad that highlights

the best lyrics of a generation,
I am the last one to arrive,
I am the jumper cables for a decade

of dead batteries. I am kneeling
over a coffee table indulging
every weakness at once,

I am nosebleed and last chance,
scarred knuckles and blistered fingers,
I am the shatter on impact,

more influential than you’d ever guess,
I am hours of practice or talent
without effort. I am

every hunger you’ve tasted,
every tongue and tale,
every happy ending,

every innuendo and metaphor,
I am the dishes done
and the door kicked in,

I am the way your ass
looks in that skirt
and I always know

when I’ve gone too far,
when I’m too far gone.
How can you resist?


3. Every Rose Has Its Thorn

Every war has its red stem,
every survivor has damaged limbs.

Every coup has its rhythm.

The bullet dreams of ballet,
language dreams of the body,
bone boils before metal.

We are porcelain.
We are tumbling, consumed,

contained in these black boxes.
Recovered. Unzipped. Displayed.

Kissing, tendrilled,

we are perfectly unformed.
This is about music,

how every song has its promise:

We will be young forever—
burning, bursting

with grief, with gratitude.

Self-Portrait With Kurt Cobain Jokes

Your last song went #1 with a bullet, for example, and then there were those cracks left over from the space shuttle exploding when we were all sophomores somewhere, jokes rising from the dead the way art repackages previous art: like repurposing the drive shaft from a 1972 Nova into a statement on cruelty into a guitar into a song into a needle with a frigate inside. In hindsight every one of your songs was a suicide note, a love poem, a prayer. One day you’re the last best hope of a generation, the next you’re a hockey player with dandruff, a mug of beer, a cautionary tale, a one-liner on a T-shirt, you’re Michelangelo but not in the good way. This is how life works. If you can’t laugh at yourself—but this is not about you, it turns out at the very end when it’s too late for such knowledge to matter. It’s about me. I surround myself with music though I cannot carry a tune, I listen whether I want to or not.

Amorak Huey is author of the poetry collections Ha Ha Ha Thump (Sundress, 2015) and Boom Box (Sundress, forthcoming 2019), as well as two chapbooks. He is co-author with W. Todd Kaneko of the textbook Poetry: A Writer’s Guide and Anthology (Bloomsbury, 2018) and teaches at Grand Valley State University. He is currently working on his first novel.

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