Big Bridge #10

Export: Writing the Midwest


David Baratier



If you’ve never had spam
barbequed on the grill
or known someone who has
warmed their socks in the microwave
for the cold day ahead
this poem isn’t for you.

If you don’t know whether killing
a buck with birdshot
from a 20 gauge at 100 yards
is the truth, a fable, an allegory
or a downright lie
you’re climbing the wrong tree
for a blind.

I say this poem isn’t for
your nature writing
emotionally insecure projections
on birds & beavers & shits
stiffy shirt intellectualling.
And if you read any further
I’ll take a tire iron
to your sensitive side.

This one’s for folks who’ve heard of
the Labor Movement, the Ironton
Renaissance or cry in your beer confessionalism.
If your idea of entertainment
is a six pack and a bug zapper
this poems for you & your ma
who taught you better.

For those about to
hammer bottle caps into the door frame
& move their cable spool coffee table
to use the weed eater in the living room—
we salute you.

Buddy, don’t listen to their
“this is how to write a poem” hooey unless
they are smart enough to drive a semi-
and got the guts above
their name on a belt buckle.

Don’t change a damn thing
not a word. The sun is rising on
our front lawn of silhouetted ornaments.
We’re the new objectionists
with our fresh cube-steak renderings.

Maybe that’s why
manifestoes are for pussies
who have never driven a car
with red taped tailight covers
& a rag for a gas cap.


after Celan #7

the flower that bows and cups itself
with as many bends in meaning as a suitcase
contains socks should be as such
a sock or a turtle or a married elk
who has lost his wife and needs
a trickster figure to make it worse
mismatch sock and sock and so on


What is right will never be lost or taken

A later date always has merit,
never is a moralistic problem,
take the tea in the harbor cast over—
the loss of waiting to sell your item
until it’s the next cabbage patch
up for development on the city’s grid. Our
Puritanical roots, the American guilt cycle
where one is "wrong" for having done
long after they first thought the idea.

Know the plant by the wood.
Much differs in dormancy.
Be ready for the expected future
or else leaf loss will leave you speechless
for a few months. Repeatedly,
absence does this.

Historians say the seventies will best be
known for their artifacts, so commence
the post-served commerce. In reverse history,
the fisher price figures should not float
in the bathtub, skipper, first mate,
scuba GI Joe with kung-fu grip.
Leif Garrett’s signature on this banner,
near a shaken Big Boggle, should
have been preserved long ago. Hold
back wild horses. Not for the enjoyment
but for the absence. Not for the served.
Not even for loyalty to the moment.

Ships are safest in port
but that’s not what they’re made for.

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