Big Bridge #10

An Open Letter to America


Jeff Encke


These poems are from an unpublished book-length series entitled Most Wanted, each poem refers to a single figure from the deck of Personality Identification Playing (PIP) Cards published by the U.S. Department of Defense March 2003.

No magic you say, no wand
                         to cut in

on the slow dance
            of ulna and radius

                                    to elide
the wound of dawn—
no purpose

            in the yellowjacket’s radiance

no art to this chiseled exchange

we gaze at each other
as if, almost      by accident

Our minds and teeth rot
            pockets seething

            with tokens
as we mold a future

to taste digital sweetness
in the shadow

            of a smoldering domicile

was that it? the unspeakable
            deduced from mistakes

translated as will?
the media’s dolor?
                          the homicide

tending koi across the border?

As Abelard his Heloise
Simone her Jean Paul

so you had me at a distance

            that winter

I learned to speak around it

            to paint a maquillage
            of soil and sap

the allure of pall

                          ice storms encasing
the budless black digits of trees

            flowers of clarity

Meeting your gaze I hoped to unlock
the answers

labor with the key
                    spark borne
              at the tip of a linstock

            to sweep the barrel
                          of the skull

of which I dreamt
                                 a first birthday

            Indian pixie bearing bracelet
                          small hand rasping
knew I had

a meal of sorrels

                          drifting through
            a Louisiana bayou
under laurels of stars