Blob in Old Sink and Other Poems

 
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Jeffrey Gray

Art by Alexander Richard Wilson

 
 

Blob in Old Sink

The hard water
percolates through limestone, leaking
rust-streak strafe on the back
of the bowl, a calcium ring
incising the water level.
And there it is, half afloat
in an inch of water, what
someone coughed up
or spat, effused in
eddies: lazy inscrutable jags,
like a whirling galaxy, like
a cataract dropped
from the eye of the saved,
like a poodle teleported,
arriving unforgivably
inside out, in “The Fly” 1958,
like a trembling clot
on the surface of a stew,
like the oozing of a wound,
like a tiny raw omelette,
a tiny soufflé, a tiny
floorplan of foundered intention,
like a cloud floating
from the memory
of a cloudless day,
in the sky of Sacramento 1976,
like the surface foam left
by the ship of your history, like
the tremulous snot of a mad
infant nose, or the trail
of a slug vanished
in the night leaving only
this and a grain of salt,
like a cold conflagration,
like a flaming bubble,
a reluctant visitation,
an apparition of fatty film
filtered up from marbled
meat, like the froth on
the scored lips of a dissolute
binger who will never wake
up, like a haze a mucous
shrub secreting
an Aladdin’s cave,
the golden seeping door
of our own deep
and bushy time.

 

Postcard from Meteora

After the drop and the deep gap, days
of remembering, wandering from the switchback
path, you come to sunless hills, brown
as moss, as the flanks of mules, and high

straight shafts of shadow. No child
was ever born here, no woman
ever moaned and looked up at the red
tiles, the only accent in the hunched

arthritic rock, the outcropped
ghostly roots, unscalable humps.
We look out in the last nights
of August at the showers

of meteors and the stillness
where they burn and vanish.
White wall, cistern, chapel, mist:
this is the lost ridge

where we come to be worn
smooth as stelae, where we grow lame
or dumb watching a worm
of dust in a candle stump, the old

dread caught in the caked
earth, the moon like a spore
sunk behind the hive
of cells. Below us the webbed

paths lie that will take us down,
away from here, and the insomniac
road lying stripped of its
secret, of our mistake.

 
 

If Only

Image, if only
you could cough
up pellets of hair
and bone like
a barn owl, or like
a medium coughing
up agates, each
an archive, an atlas
of paths and rooms,
in the long gush
of summers before
you were dismantled.

*

Your glowing arm
arcs upward, you teeth are bared
as if in love-making,
you have given everything.
But the tree was cut
on which we were leaves
and now the leaves you touch
recoil, stained
by your fingertips
and now your sight goes
underground like a bed of coal,
its light left to
struggle upward.

*

Walking today I saw the postwar apartments,
flat slabs grey in March
rising twenty stories with small
cement gardens in between.
The streets are overgrown,
and your body lies empty
in the red-lit exhaust.
I hold your hips from behind,
I kiss you on the mastoid.
Like a child, the moon sucks
its rivers and tides,
bending them upward.

*

A baby will smile at half a face,
even at half a painted
dummy face as long
as it’s the upper half.
More it doesn’t need,
but it won’t smile for less.
The generous loving
breast—is that what we will see
at the end of the world?
No, but those who fail
in their once-bornness,
their breath still shallow,
want another chance.

 

Fall / Winter 2023



Jeffrey Gray

Jeffrey Gray is a poet and essayist whose work has appeared in the Yale Review, TriQuarterly, Fjords, American Poetry Review, and other journals. He is the author of Mastery’s End: Travel and Postwar American Poetry (University of Georgia Press) and the English translator of Rodrigo Rey Rosa’s novels The African Shore (Yale University Press) and Chaos, a Fable (Amazon Crossing). He is also editor or co-editor of several anthologies, including The Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Poets and Poetry and the Companion to American Poetry (Wiley Blackwell).



Alexander Richard Wilson

Alexander Richard Wilson (b. 1993, St. Louis, MO) attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Their graphic painting engages the spaces and depths of the American landscape and psyche, and all the sensations of a queer black body living in Colorado. Their work has been exhibited at A.R. Mitchell Museum of Western Art (Trinidad, CO), Friend of a Friend / FOAF (Denver), Lucky Lab Gallery (Littleton, CO), Compound Yellow (Chicago), O'Connor Art Gallery at Dominican University (River Forest, IL), De Boer Gallery (Los Angeles), and SWAB Barcelona Art Fair. Wilson lives and works in Denver. His work is in the collection of the Birmingham Museum of Art.



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