This first part was hard to figure, so no one came
out and said anything stupid or off color: On
All of preparation moves
in bed. The sheets cut apart and seams
where fabric comes in contact with itself.
Go inside: hold whatever.
Laughter wraps your body up—tailored by your mouth,
it proceeds to swallow. The rest of sound surrounds you.
What I like is the way your teeth come
together like a row of Chiclets,
full of minty-fresh.
The mirror is deformed and reshaped enough
so that over a lifetime the body
in front of it makes as many faces as the days it contains.
Lined up in rows and declared like taxes:
this one for celebration, this one for sadness, this one here for the chest of wings still flapping, its hollow bones—
and that thing at the end of the line solid and round as a pea,
to pause and recollect a release form | your signature.
A cat crosses the street in front of us. Skin left
where it got cut—
a troop of soldiers march and they're drumming, a cut full of rain in the sky
and its drumming.
A train whistles and departure
gets a concrete name—
a cat full of rain | the sky with its wheels
the whistle | every bell
dreams of silence, contained.
The wheels on the train
We are destined to shallow. A shrill sound. We wear
tiny stars in our eyes. They turn and limp. Poor lights.
Though it's dark, they follow anything that moves.
In ways more like water and witless comedy, our laughs
ring their bells and then stop.
Each street holds another's hand. Regrets: a body outlined
by pale dust. The things that pass through them
become illustrated and luminous.
Awkward angle of teeth can be mended. Be careful, yourself, not to step on nails and get rabies.
The finches in the empty bottle chirp on through morning. The plastic head of Christ
on his plastic cross can melt down to a single drop.
To start a fire, first distinguish the difference between ashes and burning.
How to walk on a wing: find a dead bird:
How to wait: (patiently)
open close open.
How to halve pears: one sharp knife and one swift down-stroke. Careful with fingers.
How to be a fool, yourself: three things:
Set them in fire on your palm.
See which goes out if you drop to your knees or if you are dreaming.
Tony Mancus lives in Astoria and teaches writing. Some of his poems have been (or will be) published by cream city review; Forklift, Ohio; Handsome; Encyclopedia Destructica; H_ngm_n; and others. He cofounded Flying Guillotine Press and makes small books in Brooklyn and Queens.