« Daniel Becker | Contents | Doing it with the R's: On William Carlos Williams' To Elsie by Daniel Nester »

Daniel Nester

Messenger Scene

  1. You go into our old town to smell it and so do I.
  2. You buy six-packs there and drink the beers right there and so do I.
  3. You know we were your kids’ age when he said those things,
  4. So the smell of the old town gives me the creeps—
  5. Yesterday I developed the pictures I took and they were all blurred.
  6. The signs were all misspelled, the old ladies still alive—
  7. I saw a kid hanging out in front of the deli. He looked like me except
  8. He wasn’t afraid. I wanted to tell him I was afraid for you—
  9. You little fuck—I got beat up for you—
  10. He wouldn’t have listened to me I know because I didn’t listen then.



Barbaric, Classical, Solemn

Something happens in the stickerbushes
the day of my first kiss, a baseball game under
black clouds of smoke. The Garden State Racetrack
burns down as Mary Prate clocks me from the bleachers.
She chases me into the clubhouse, she smells
the scallion on my breath. Mary consoles herself
in our passion play. She plants them on me
as racehorses choke off in Cherry Hill.
Frank Sinatra had crooned beside that highway,
Jackie Wilson clutched his heart onstage,
Richard Pryor had complained of a shortage
of white people and cocaine. We kiss
through all of this, the day disco dies, the day
the beat slows down, the night the Latin Casino
burns down in the rain. There’s this presence
that holds me against its cheek. It sticks close.
It surrounds me, it’s a hex that tracks me down.
The day after my tongue tastes Mary’s, my pantleg
rumples down into my sleep. I could call it a fire,
but I only dream it, I wait. I could drop down
and trample on it, and I could sing. But I still wait
for a parentless view under the stickerbushes.
I still smell the burning and do not seek it.
I roll in it and I do not swell.
I will sit here, skull-rubed and, redfaced, return.
« Daniel Becker | Contents | Doing it with the R's: On William Carlos Williams' To Elsie by Daniel Nester »