Big Bridge #10

Export: Writing the Midwest


Jesse Glass


New Year's Day

blinds up
the whole story wobbles by
like the steam-driven panoramas painted by the eccentric
South Dakotan artist John Banvard:

the story bangs along for two hours,
unrolled from
huge wooden cylinders, and
for my 25 cents
I can see Anthony & Cleopatra in a peeling embrace,
the building of the Great Wall of China,
a panorama of the Midwestern holy lands blessed by a Mormon Jesus.


a new roll turns on its spindle
here comes 1984...
As I see it from 807 E. Juneau,
city of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County,
the state of the world
is in fairly good shape,
the birds are in working order
(a raven squats on a snowy limb even as I speak)
none of the cathedrals that line this street
have tiptoed away during the night, so
they must yet serve some function,
people still drink milk in their morning coffee,
therefore cows exist,
and gravity works
(bread crumbs
drop to the roaches)
& yes
people still get
from too much Jack Daniels the night before

                                                                                    –turn, turn–

A lady I once kept at lips’ length away
is now one hemisphere and six hours’ difference
from this time zone gone,
obviously memory is still here when I need it
love needs no new fuses
and hate in its little black box
hums merrily on.
A new being
waits in a hidden velveteen sack
for the green light
and his Mama’s go-ahead
to call me Daddy.
I wait for this year
to ease up out of the muck
like a monster pig
chewing a colossal sugar beet
to sweeten its breath.
So I can finish this panorama
the pig must be trained
to stand on a gilded pedestal
and grunt dixie.
But I have plenty of time to marshal the minutes–
the boilers hiss with a good head of steam. I lean
               on the starlit throttle....
the cylinders groan,
the frayed canvas unrolls,
and off we go lurching
into my thirtieth year.


New Year's Day

no good dreams like the other night
just screaming
into a black mirror;
in that dream
I’d returned to an old love     a Chicago painter
who stole me blind                my fist slams into
                                                plaster walls
                                                I bray like the ass I was
               feeling the old

return                  Rub my eyes
because I’m finally awake & how do
you do/ to make me calm? How do
you do (?)           You’re with me again
across the table addressing

a post card to your Wolfie Otto
               6230 Frankfurt 80.
Coffee cup dear we’re all slowly dying but
you trimmed my beard this morning
can reach all the hard places. Remember?
               I made you cum. Don’t
blush at that line. Now I finally

recall lying drunk all one fine summer’s day
                                         in the murmuring grass.
A dog sniffed my face.  2 kids
came round to say hi.  The sky
was a dime store window trimmed with white & blue clouds.

I was ready to burglarize heaven any minute
                            for fun
make all the alarms ring
without a thought of consequences
                            (because I’m ardent)
steal all the angels’ panties
                            (because I’m still alive)
wear them like a cock’s comb, red-
on my head
& crow  liberty! fraternity! equality!

over a wall of fog
to you mine “Germ Girl,” O
best & happiest
lover                    please

keep the 2 syllables
of my name.

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