FIVE POEMS by JACK BIDESE

Vespertine

I become less depressed whenever I’m snowed in.
For some reason, I’m always reminded that the sun
will be back eventually, a thought which usually doesn’t cross my mind
in winter.

Winter is depressing, all the trees lose their green,
I always end January feeling generally worthless. Right now,
though, I feel fine. I try and hibernate through the winter,
sleeping to avoid feeling.

When I was in high school, in winter, I would
sleep, head down on my desk in three
different classes, just to skip forward
the clock towards eventual sun.

Today, walking to class, I saw a car,
about to make a left turn in front of me,
and something in me told me that they we’re going to skid on the ice,
and so, I froze six feet away from the stop sign
they narrowly avoided hitting when their car skidded on the ice.
Twice, on my walk just before this, two sheets of snow fell above me from the limbs of trees, causing me to briefly pause and ask “why?” towards the unceasing universe.

During a walk to class, I listen to Lou Reed’s Berlin
for the first time, and as the song “Oh, Jim” starts
I slip on the ice and fall on my ass.
I wave my hands in exhaustion, and look
back to see if anyone saw me fall.
Two people did.
Today, a different day, I left my phone in my freezer,
drank half a bottle of wine, watched a movie,
and then found it again.
To find it I, in a panic, searched
my living room for thirty minutes,
and, when I couldn’t find it,
got on my knees,
and meditated.

I try and map out my feelings about winter,
but I can’t decide where the lakes and rivers will go.
Will it matter, since they’re all covered in snow?

 

 

Variations on a Theme

 

I.
Every 45 minutes, I check to see if we’re at war yet.
It will probably be with Syria,
or North Korea, maybe Turkey
(O Turkey O Erdogan O how you lash out those who won’t bow
O how you keep killing Kurds O how you shriek, from the tops of buildings,
“We are the Ottoman Empire, and we will be taken seriously.”)
or Russia will turn on to us to keep things interesting, or Saudi Arabia,
(who will have Uber before women can legally drive)
or Yeman, or Kuwait, or Iran, can you blame them?
In five years, there won’t be a Palestine, just more internationally-condemned settlements
and more waterparks to visit on birthright.

 

II.
World, wondrous, working
willows in the breeze,
a break from 24-hour, constantly refreshing reality.
Everyday millions of posts are made, most
immaterial, two likes no comments.

O you bright luminescent comet,
won’t you explode already,
and save us the suspense.
O harsh immaculate dying sun,
shine for someone else,
I’m not in the mood.

 

III.
When I look at the moon,
in the dark of my room,
I think of what a night like tonight must have looked like,
before the moon was a place conquered in textbooks
or before telescopes,
or before the word “moon” itself.
The moon looks tonight as if in a spotlight,
being presented, or on display,
a sign or a trophy, who’s to say?
I like to imagine the moon is a
planet, that its craters are clouds,
and that somewhere up there is a person looking out their bedroom window,
and, to them, Earth is shining radiantly tonight.
And I imagine they’re happy.

 

 

A quick poem where I recount the first time I learned about 9/11

 

I was in bible study, before my normal school day in elementary school, and my bible study teacher gave us all bookmarks, and on the bookmarks there was a prayer and a picture of the crying Christ embracing a crying woman, and my teacher was saying something about evil men attacking America, and I didn’t know what she was talking about so I ignored her, and I flipped over the prayer bookmark, and on the back were the exploding World Trade Centers—bulbous fiery destruction—and my teacher said something about George Bush, or freedom, and then transitioned us into our bible lesson for the day.

 

 

For Muriel Spark

 

You found your voice when you converted
to the religion I moved away from.
You claimed yourself an aesthete,
sort of stumbled into novels.
I read your book The Girls of Slender Means
a parable, just like the rest.
If you lived your art, and all your stories are parables,
what are you a parable for?

 

 

I Want to Pour Orange Juice on My Face
After Tao Lin

 

i want to pour a carton of orange juice onto my face and body

in winter, in my bathtub

i want to rub my arms with basil

spice my back with turmeric

i want you there, supervising, and i want you to ask, “what does this poem mean”

and i’ll say “i don’t know”

you’ll ask, “what does this poem mean”

i’ll respond “i don’t know, i think i was upset”

i want you to be sitting on the floor with your knees to your neck

i want both our faces to be swollen

i want to draw faces on all the watermelon

i want to burn all the lemons, rip all the limes in half

i want to power my house on bok choy, replace the lightbulbs with kale

i want you to say, “eating a mcdonald’s cheeseburger is more traumatic then

eating a cow’s heart, from a nutritional standpoint”

i want to pour a carton of orange juice onto your face and body, so you feel included