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Paul Guest: Two Poems

Manifesto | XO


My body has no truck with idle sleep
or much use for fragrant jonquils

or each girl in her frill of air, or time
spent admiring the plum's dark

flesh I would not even taste as a boy.
It is wise to love fiercely

the cardinal for losing in high grass
some fat something

it wanted like death —
tonight, my own song will bloom

like a bell and you will not
know. I grieve no more

than the worth of lint as I'm leaving.
I grieve this river

and you. And though
the code of my breath unkinked

seems only a wish
for you to lower at last

your hair in the dark,
it is not wisdom —

but see, see through me
like a black keyhole, like a half-dumb sham.


If aliens in invisible orbit intercepted
my love letters to you, at the end
of each they might think, he's through,
thank God
, assuming, of course,
He's reached them. Even light,
the alpha and omega of all
speed, cannot help but be forever
tardy. They might think
of each paltry code our kind has made,
SOS, semaphore, Braille
raised like a rash, and the code
of which we're made, in our cells
interlaced. XO ending
so many of the notes,
they might think I speak of football,
that I have begun to diagram the rudiments
of our game plan, the one that will rocket us back
from loss. Maybe they are curious
why these sounds
above the two dozen others in our mouths
mean how I would touch you
and why RQ does not in the slightest mean
all day I have ached for just your ear
or why UL does not abbreviate
the breath I've spent trying not to say your name
and maybe they do not care
and in their chill orbits
their own love letters beam back through dark vacuum
what they have learned
and how savage this world is
and the food is not like home
and the bed is a garden seeded with lumps
and write soon
and though it is no substitute
let us believe that this is my hug and this is my kiss.

Poet's Biography:
Paul Guest Paul Guest's first book, The Resurrection of the Body and the Ruin of the World, won the 2002 New Issues Poetry Prize. His poems appear in Crazyhorse, Prairie Schooner, Lyric, West Branch, Gulf Coast and elsewhere.

© 1999 - 2004, by the poets featured herein.