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M Bartley Seigel

These four and many others are forthcoming in a book from Typecast Publishing. Further back, they originate, like most of my obsessions, in particular kinds of geographic and demographic marginalia, in particular kinds of places and people. Someone once gave me a Paul Blackburn quote, “to write poetry is not a personal achievement.” I think that’s pretty true. I wish for my poetry scale and precision, locations and dislocations, anxiety, dreams, and apprehensions, but I can’t be the judge of that, I suppose. My songs, sermons, valentines, laments, I hope people read them and can find some meaning there.

 

 

 

This is what they say

 

Some things can’t be undone. A peeled orange. A quartered pig. Time. Words. Sometimes we open our mouths and our fathers and mothers crawl up from out of our throats. They grasp at our teeth and lips and pull themselves up like babies from a birth canal, peaking their heads out, roaring like hungry little bears, their gasoline voices wrapped in barbed wire, lit matches in their tight little fists. Sometimes we can heal ourselves, perform the necessary triage, but most times we can’t. We misapprehend the nature of our wounds and woundings, applying leaches to black eyes, trying to kiss away slit wrists. Alone in our skins, we try to imagine ourselves the kind of people who don’t lie or steal or break hearts or bones, but in the end we can’t help but remind ourselves of ourselves, tired, bruised, and sore. 

 

 

 

This is what they say

 

All sallow faced and boney skulled, we laugh at our hairy potbellies and share another cigarette, hopeful that if we put away our pocketknives long enough, we’ll end up in bed, shouldering each other’s weight around our soiled sheets. We’ll false promise to walk the line and pretend we’ve no intention to hang ourselves. That’s some kind of sad song, isn’t it, come to rest on its hands and knees, head hung low? Let us sing it out, lucky in our love like old radios on windowsills, our dusty vacuum tubes still warming at the pinch of electricity, our volumes turned up too loud, too strong.

 

 

This is what they say

 

We keep trying to locate ourselves in these woods, between the trees, behind wood piles. We descend into our swamps, duck into our dark closets, pull our hair shirts over our heads, hide behind our calloused hands. Outside gas stations we smoke the butts of discarded cigarettes, one after the other, looking over our shoulders for women informants and men from our pasts, shadows and our little darlings, our mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, children and dogs and ex-lovers and current lovers and preachers and parole officers whose ghosts threaten to discover and overcome us, to reveal us to ourselves.

 

 

This is what they say

 

Mouths to feed, mouths to wash out with soap, mouths to fill with words that can be thrown back at us like bricks. The garden has gone to weeds, the garage needs painting, the brakes on this truck will give any second, and it has all been so long coming, so much anticipated, that it will end not in panic, but as an enormous exhalation of relief. We must learn to be hungry, to keep company with our hunger, to learn what it means to drive directionless and without purpose in the pursuit of something gnawing and empty. Once we learn to despair of despairing, to grind out our existence in absence and want, to get out of bed anyway with our hard smiles etched in our leather, we will have arrived glorious and undefeated.

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