“The Sausage Master of Minsk” by August Kleinzahler

        I was sausage master of Minsk;
young girls brought parsley to my shop
and watched as I ground
coriander, garlic and calves’ hearts.

At harvest time they’d come with sheaves:
hags in babushkas, girls plump
as quail, wrapped in bright tunics,
switching the flanks of oxen.
Each to the other, beast and woman,
goggle-eyed at the market’s flow.

My art is that of my father:
even among stinking shepherds, bean-
brained as the flocks they tend, our
sausages are known. The old man
sits in back, ruined in his bones, a scold.

So it was my trade brought wealth.
My knuckles shone with lard, flecks
of summer savory clung to my palms.
My shop was pungent with spiced meat
and sweat: heat from my boiling pots,
my fretful labors with casings,
expertly stuffed. Fat women in shawls
muttered and swabbed their brows.
Kopeks made a racket on my tray.

But I would have none of marriage:
the eldest son, no boon,
even with the shop’s renown, was
I to my parents. Among mothers
with daughters, full-bottomed, shy,
I was a figure of scorn.

In that season when trade was a blur,
always, from the countryside, there was one,
half-formed, whose eyes, unlike
the haggling matrons’ squints, roamed
and sometimes found my own.
And of her I would inquire.
Before seed-time they always returned.

Tavern men speak freely of knives,
of this, of that. Call me a fool.
For in spring I would vanish
to the hills and in a week return,
drawn, remote, my hair mussed,
interlaced with fine, pubescent yarn.


Source: Kleinzahler, August. Live from the Hong Kong Nile Club: Poems : 1975-1990. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003. Print.

Notes from an iPhone

Wikipedia Poem, No. 527

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“it is impossible not to hunger for eternity” Jorie Graham

men stand at car windows
knock on car windows
crystal stemware

in the lonely gardens of
masculinity crystal
stemware knocking watch

mediterranean men
stand watch stand
in the lonely

gardens
of skinny
mediterranean

men standing off
fingers off
antique replicas of skinny offers

skinny mediterranean
men stand at the skinny windshield
crystal stemware knock on car windows

crystal stemware knock
car windows and windshields
crystal stem knock car windows

crystal knock in car windows
crystal stemware knock the car
wind whip the window

crystals stemware
knocking
fingers

off antique
replicas of
masculinity

mediterranean
men men men
standing watch

in
the lonely
gardens

of skinny
mediterranean standards at car windows
dirty crystal

stemware knock
car
windows into begging

crystal
crystal
stemware knock knock

crystal car windows
crystal stemware
watch

in the lonely gardens of skinny
mediterranean men standing
fingers

off antique replicas of masculinity
poems?
his vicious

iron
hammer
bursting

watch
in the lonely gardens of
masculinity

his
vicious
iron hammer bursting car

windows
crystal
stemware knocking

watching
in the
lonely garden

The Internet Appears in the Morning Like a Hand / Full of Cashews and Coconut Meat

Wikipedia Poem, No. 508

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from your
genderlesque moiré two water suns
train invasive things

the percieved field
is most like my clause
before stolen ice cream

in order to think
like singing deploy
textbook masturbation

thighs swing
across the marketplace
air like hangman

powerful free diogenes
sidling cloud crab
then off she petals paper

dress of gauze
grazing blue-white dross
still die high in its gaze

Hezutsu Tōsaku (1726-1789)

affluence

Affluence—define it as:
pickled greens,
rice for supper,
nice wine, one bottle,
modest but never empty

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Source: Sato, Hiroaki, and Burton Watson. From the Country of Eight Islands: An Anthology of Japanese Poetry. New York: Columbia University Press, 1987. Print.

Going to Minsk

Wikipedia Poem, No. 481

W481-s2m

dough stuck to       eat (or      stop   cannibalizing it
never ends all the dumplings will never end
all like a black rabbit head such improbable
writing         plastic trimming never ending all       like a rebus poem
the throat himself       (or     a stand-in    for the       paris
review facebook page someone somewhere must care
about a man who         smartly uses his petunia 
now he's unrecognizable          symmetry slides   down 
the dumplings will never end all the dumplings will never end
all     the dumplings he will never provide   myself to myself
(or stand for the grey pixels and       black     rabbit heads 
such        improbable      writing          a rebus poem 
then a laudable commander in the grey pixels 
and mouthed tooth    desire as idols to eat      
(or     stop   cannibalizing inside 
where it      never ends   i didn't know he had 
an earring    all the buying          fried dough stuck 
to an      unnamed company doing companion-dance
myself    (or myself    standing up to dumplings that will    never end
all like a rebus     poem    the grey mouth  pixels    will
unnamed commander the kids are tom 
veitch's         poison   meat to august kleinzaler's    poison 
meat       to august kleinzaler's poison meat 
august stands     for the kids sausage-master 
on the grey pixels and     the black rabbit head     
dwindling improbable writing starved dumplings
will never end      all      like a hidden end
all the throat (or a hidden-in grey commanding throat

Impossible Numbers

Wikipedia Poem, No. 418

wiki418-sm

after Vijay Seshadri

and numbers
no matter how abstract
laced together
in a ceramic bowl
farmost
impossible

an implication of angels
argue about 3 green apples
in an old lady’s outstretched hands
the numb plain makes no sense

lust

in a cracked ceramic bowl
clearly the old lady and the victim
language sunlesions real flesh
strugges to become impossible
numbers punish its argument
3 brown dates drown in scree
neon tulips green apples

The Roar of the Slain Protect

Wikipedia Poem, No. 413

wiki413-sm

“But they know how to pull / Arms in, a reflex of being dressed, / And also, a child’s faith. The mass of stuff / That makes the Sunday frocks collapses / In my hands and finds its shape, only because / They understand the drape of it— / These skinny keys to intricate locks.” Mark Jarman

For Bill

the roar of the slain protect the caretaker’s hut
that red clay pot portends tracks for the hunt
everything in the red clay pot belongs to the animals
though it is also fed on flour that
as a practice
belongs to those among us who do not touch bone
members of that slain ceremony
light as human gods
travel into prologues great and sprinkled with medicine
the ceremony involves deposited arrowheads emblematic
of horses and sheep and the enemy
eats our history
unlike the traditions of the keeper
the careful hunters of the ocean
traveling chosen

paculum-spec2-sm

Sources:

‘How is the sky like a grater, Jimmy?’

grater-sm

For James Schuyler

How is the sky like a grater, Jimmy?
What is sent up for shredding?

Touches blue-bore and spark-moon,
Cloud or torch in a rush against—

No, not again, this
Is how I am like a grater.

So, what comes down lesser?
Smaller, not sky. The sky

Is neither catalog,
Nor inventory,

Litany; it is not
What comes down.

The sun sets.
You can’t see it.

I’ve put too much stock
In the pot. A carrot then.

Stalks of fibrous celery chopped down.
The pot is hungry and inconceivable,

A manic boiling, now, not always
Roiled like this, sometimes, never crying

Unable to get out from under the covers,
in bed as hilled leeks. A planned community.

Sliced thinly, not shredded alive. Small circles
Small miracles, or. I listen to Le Roi Malgré Lui,

“The Reluctant King”, on my Playstation 4
And curse the prism-sun blasting the laptop’s

Lungs and abdominal cavity. It is your task
To know when I am in this room,

It is your task to know when I am in this room.
It is your task to know

When I am looking through these eyes
Or through these eyes.

Wikipedia Poem, No. 376

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“that sticky infusion, that rank flavor of blood, that poetry” Galway Kinnell

 

of
sizzle—her innards
disposed of
meaning sow
plated for
a child
in the hourglass
faces
down thin
strips of sizzle—her innards
disposed of
meaning to letter law

it is passionate play that is passionate
play that is passionate
play the comprise of
choices

it is
cold
here—stuck through
with the bear—

that is cold
there—stuck
through
the hourglass
faces
down
there—stuck through
with
the
101st

airborne the 101st
airborne the fisher’s net the ribbon-winning of sizzle—innards
disposed
of
meaning of trumpet the
emergency room doctor’s

red ribbon-winning of choices

is
it cold
here

is

is

a poem is art you make with words
death is the end of the parade, which is to say everglade still
jake is a cake cone, vanilla soft-serve, rainbow sprinkles
noon is a mystery until noon

art you make with words
end of parade, which is to say everglade still
cake cone, vanilla soft-serve, rainbow sprinkles
mystery ’til noon

art you make end cake cone, vanilla
soft-serve, rainbow sprinkles noon

art is soft