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Many Poems by Joe Hall pt. 2

There are burning heaps of dead horses
In the literary wind belly-filling with rancid stellar dust
A horse eaten by a grand piano
A horse’s skin sloughed by radiation, sticky muscles splashing
Through flooded fields of rice
Arabian horses with broken backs, struggling to stand or even shoo
The flies and maggots in the bombed out hippodrome’s shell
Or the frozen war dead in a cart harnessed to a drought horse
That is also lying down in the mud to die
And when from an act of science the dead walk this earth
The horses will walk first, hot breath jetting
Through their long skulls
We will ride these horses
Then race them, find them hateful and kill them
Feeling regret in our broken faces
We will impale ourselves on their long diseased ribs
Hoping to become something else, catching light
Something like turds
Or fabulously iridescent oil
Shining with its exhaustion
I would live in the country, I would live in the city
I pray to Jesus in a duck blind with my rifle
I pray to Jesus at dinner with friends with a 3rd
Kind of genital, I live in a condo on a
Farm for republican rage, I update my blog
In a coffee shop in a civil war prison staffed
By green confederate skeletons
There are tall pines and sand pouring from the windows
Of tall buildings, there are necks blowing out cones
Of blood at the table at Applebees
There are beautiful heads with flowers on their lips
Drifting down the Susquehanna—
for David who is my father
On the sandy banks, I am reclining
as the winch of a dredger clanks
scooping up locks of bone, the three chambers
of a heart turning colorless. In the evening
I play a computer game
that is called Don’t Shit Your Pants
where you are bald, pink, and wearing an undershirt.
You try not to shit your pants.
I used to love Paul Blackburn. Here he is:
smoking, he eats an orange and stares at the sea
on a balcony in Salonica
before throat cancer kills him.
He is a version of you, David, of course.
Funded by the state, I file my life down,
blow a hill into powder. All that the chisel leaves,
a reaching without sleep—mud snails
climbing green reeds—living in
a rotten house in a trailer park
in the knocking winds, waterspouts
rising, mixing, whether I am watching or not
your wife, her body that does not hold water
six floors above the ground
in the cauterizing space
of the cancer ward.
David, I am ready to believe what your wife believes:
under the final tidal wave of flame
our body waits for us
but it is in stupid coldness, spasmodic,
circling its own death, weeping over it.
In the binding labor of sleep
I will believe, and belief is the wind
where I am naked on the trailer park beach
and a hand is upon me, David.
It is the wind, and the wind is a sculpture of time.
O terror!
Joe Hall was born in the woods and is devoted to Cheryl. He is the author of The Devotional Poems (Black Ocean 2013). With Chad Hardy he wrote The Container Store Vols. I & II (SpringGun 2012). His poems, fiction, book reviews, and essays have appeared in Gulf Coast, Octopus, HTMLGiant, The Colorado Review, and elsewhere.