The Brooklyn Rail

MAR 2018

All Issues
MAR 2018 Issue




Bees Themselves

My daughter’s occupations. Presences of mind. Something about September. Aches and pains. A logic exercise. Something with architecture. Something in movement. And a lie. And a song. Before sleep and upon waking she distributes animals among us. I’m paranoid about sidewalk triangles and curved scratches under clouds. Red osier dogwood has whitish berries, cattails are half exploded. At night, a muscle above my right knee pulses. A promise implies two futures yoked together, all probability aside. First transparent libraries and schools, then transparent courthouses and jails. I have to resist the urges to swivel and tap.

I can bolero and guacancó to obscure my bitter sadness. My ribs itch, hunching over the swivel of fleeing time. She’s an animal doctor who gives animals water. (“Any animals?”) A bedform morphology hypothesis for spawning areas of Chinese sturgeon. September is not a big month for interlibrary loan requests. How do you know you have a top of head? It’s not your birthday so let’s pretend it’s your birthday. Are all college campuses intended to look so blandly pompous? And to dwarf these people who glide effortfully between buildings? I’ve devised a system of tunnels to entrap these wanderers.

In love we’re interlibrary coxcomb trolleys, trolleys in love morphology. She loves the new monkey’s monkey in a sweatshirt shirt. I reject the hyphens and maintain the noise threshold, ambivalently. The dandelions persist, and plantains with their halos of stamens. My lips are dry and bow-shaped from rejecting your premises. I hate money and love time, so maybe they’re reciprocal? Rows of window bays in the cafeteria resemble TV screens. The water arcs and falls, I’d like to try that. I’ve looked at the economics literature on rent control already. Money distributes our brittle animals, time’s bow-shaped boat arcs reciprocal.

She says she wants some privacy for squeezing the lemon. “She was ants to sit on the pot.” Apples in heaps rot beside a hole bees emerge from. A bee stung my chin through stubble as I bumbled. If you play games in love, they’re automatically love games. I array or collapse myself in this brutalist tokonoma amphitumulus. It’s a theater for dry apple leaves to scratch across. I’m sitting here because the least movement would compromise our mission. Beelines of my famous beestung walk emerge from archway blocks. She opens the fridge and gouges into cheesecake with her fingers.

There is no presence of mind at work at work. Little brown grasshoppers flee me up the hill on hot afternoons. My heels are sore. No padding in these shoes. “No reading your book: this is not a book factory!” The neighbors two houses down have the same slanted door. Score: go outside and keep walking till someone says hello. It’s easy to think of lies to tell my friends. My sore friends are public rhubarb heels, presences, transparent reds. (A vocational problem. An animal story. A private complaint. A factory regulation. A geographical coincidence. Some dismissive sympathy. Where I’m from. Who’s just arriving.)




The Special Category (My yacht Impossible)

My yacht Impossible is a good little ship,

its shadow a new friend moving against the sun.

We’re the tail that waits for the lizard to grow back:

my yacht, its shadow and the lizard sun. We’re against moving.

Water-bubbles form, grow, burst, and have no names.

The lost wax process is obviously involved:

a good little process. Nothing against lost bubbles.

You eat porridge in shirtsleeves in my heart,

you bubbles!

                         The reader’s beloved hand

crumples every rough draft

into a little ship. A trace of blond in

Alleghany, Pennsylvania, a town she has no memory of,

reveals itself.


Against Alleghany, on the reverse hand

the Danube, mixed with all the other rivers, remains self-aware

waiting for the memory to grow back.

The old camp, already mythologized, is founding itself

with no memory of itself, a town against presence.

A trifling rash or sign of grave disorder,

the town peels and sticks the illusion of a broken window

into a little pool of sun

squandered against the rustling leaves

of Alleghany, Pennsylvania.

Dear bubbles, what’s that squandering in my heart?

The reader reverses the process.

We’re against the illusion of duty.

She wishes she were back at sea—frankly impossible.


She thought the great pile of darkness was dirt.

The great pile of darkness was my yacht,

involved in a game with the world, beaches,

faces and behaviour already mythologized. In the game

three trailers of computer equipment will be shipped

and lost.

                        Dear reader, what if I name the trailers

The Fabric of Love, The Structure of Sex, The Social Porches,

and rest them in a pool of shadow propped

against the darkness? She thought,

beloved as arrow to string. I feel faint

and social.

I’m going to drop these shimmering velocity norms.

I’m the great pile of behaviour.


I like going thru the towns where it is revealed

that any one of them is completely different:

Alleghany, Pennsylvania is completely different.

In a flat country a town is a flat country.

The wind arrives saying “Human, I smell a human!”

The English coal-miner’s son reappears in town

singing “A Blond Danube,” understanding nothing.

On that strange night when you looked at me so

the wind arrived saying: “Rest

alongside my body, coffee with plenty of sugar

an indispensable means of transport.”

                                                                       Alongside the coffee

we sought refuge in Bloomington, Indiana, the incredible

flat white drawing of a city.


                                                        Alongside the trestles,

weeds can be gathered tenderly

blond to mauve to white to fir-yellow. We can howl

though actually it’s improper to make tender protestations,

a sign of grave disorder. Having understood, I turned pale:

what a crazy sort of friendship

and anxious refuge. The city was all

unction and wah-wah, flip passengers moving

to purchase little pennants, cannons and combustibles

in any combination for the allegory, shouting

“Regalia in immediate dema-and!”

How was I supposed to know? Lying there in drunk tank

alongside the Danube, I thought nothing. Already

I carried in my pocket a delicious invitation.




If If Then Then or Else 

Something from earlier. Something for later. Something breathing. Someone on location. All about money. All about fear. What I’d draw. Extending the line. Confusing the record. Something for later. Infant squid being. His famous pauses. Umbilicus under fig. Fake murder clickbait. Windshield and mirrors. Imperium of face. Eyebrows, lips, horizon. No video released. Infant squid being. Turn into profile. Grandma, propped up. In torn T-shirt. Sandwiches for everybody. Her way out. Thin, limp hands. Mine looking fat. Gluing rejection slips. Turn into profile. Wash the dishes. Grimy highway lindens. Toddler under table. Debt turning corner. Teeth, knees, bloodflow. Capillary architecture.

Wailing away without a blueprint. Wash dishes, understand the zodiac. Boredom prolongs the magic hour. Breathing must come between phrases. “I live in a castle.” Given for a castle feeling. Being abandoned in a tower. The crinkle-crankle of its stairwell. Room to street to world. World is a fighting word. Boredom prolongs the magic hour. Images don’t circulate, they spread. You can’t ignore the leafblowers. Anyone behind a podium grinning. Anyone appearing and their Foundation. And the fucking sidewalk swastika. Stick-figure dropping it in trashcan. Until the rented buffer comes. And the fucking triple parentheses. Images don’t circulate, they spread.

The last time I saw my grandmother. I have her record with Patchen’s vibrato. She showed us how to be alone. The vows of poverty, patience and susceptibility. I’ll start telling everything I don’t know. I’d draw cartoon coffee and donuts, simpliciter. And extend the ruse into a life. I won’t say system, won’t say silo. The last time I saw my grandmother. When you come to distinctions, make contradictions. The cat purrs and nuzzles my chin. He becomes a sphinx on my thigh. A wedding, an illness, a toy piano. I’m afraid of being poor, of course. I write

instead of drawing because I hate reticence. Defiantly I want to untie everything that’s tied up. Or, I want to bind things with sleek ribbons. “When you come to a contradiction, make a distinction.” I won’t stop, I’ll walk right through a cloud. I guess the house breathes, each room of it. Toddler drapes herself across two mattresses and commences snoring. I count ten ones, cashier recounts and faces them. Fear I look weird or seem wrong, my walk. The path through the city I used to take. The spine, the chair, the drapery comprise one line. Trailing, leaving no

trace. I won’t stop, I’ll walk right through a cloud into non-attachment. The stories I love all begin underground, germinate and never end. Short, tense breaths can be theatrical or erotic, nerve-wracking or comforting. We planted the dry black umbilical cord under the fig sapling. We were inclined to think our debt was turning some corner. What “they” think is always a side note, an unobtrusive gong. I write instead of drawing because I hate my own reticence. Then I go running away from room to street to world. It’s an activity of desire to walk along leaving no trace.





My friends, the world is full of crumbs, crumbs & revenge:

Revenge for crumbs, crumbs of revenge, or the revenge of crumbs.

My friends, you can fill up on crumbs or leave room for revenge

if there is such thing as leaving room, in the time it takes

to fill a page with holes, to fill a room with swashes of violets

that reach and sense independently, to fill the stretch of time

with ticklishness, to fill your field of vision with surveillance

or call it listening to the woods fill up

with sloe-colored dots or the beach complete

the sentence you began, my friends, with noise.

If there is such thing as a simple declarative noise

let it fill our mouths. If our tongues grasp and tingle independently

the things on the walls call it listening.





Put candy-corn on my grave

Don’t make a lithograph of orange drool splashes

Don’t make me into an instance

I who was a boat made of flesh caught on the beach

Put candy-corn on my grave & I’ll join your strike

It must feel good to have the honest dust on your side

It must feel good to know what it means to sow the earth with candy teeth

& walk among the living with headphones on

Putting the voice through its paces

Don’t ever make a graph of me

Just tread on me, tread

So that the teeth engage

Get ready to join the wrong parade



Sam Lohmann

Sam Lohmann lives in Portland, Oregon and works as an academic librarian. His books include Stand on this picnic bench and look north (Publication Studio, 2011), Unless As Stone Is (eth press, 2014) and Day Use Area (Couch Press, 2014). He is a co-organizer of the long-running Spare Room reading series, and edited the handmade poetry zine Peaches and Bats between 2006 and 2013.


The Brooklyn Rail

MAR 2018

All Issues