James Maynard

The poet, in Vermont


the totem poles steeping in the dark. Open mouths of the archetypes

gobbling the present. We swoon to see the height,

or was I drunk

on monoliths in the sky, the glow of her cheek,

all the cased-in objects purporting a life I knew, bed mats and cooking

stones, pestles and blankets.

The open mouth of the museum. Open mouths in the museum.

Sortie, le cou de Anne Boleyn

Once was a head with white handkerchief hidden.

Once hid a body in ermine and damask.

Depart! old friends. The tavern lights are raised.

from Chinatown

D says, We’re gilded-aged, Manhattan—

Isle of Emulates, of the Metonymies,

Big Apple, the Big Edamame, the Big Bean Sprout—

not the least of which Chinatown rose

in likeness to China,

smelling as fish on ice smell, as shrimp & mussels

mingle in the crates, the women

sifting through lychee barrels the men

pulling down

the skinned duck—

from Pipedream : Lincoln City, California

Tarry, then turn away. Which is my prayer.

Which is the length you tiptoed naked

to the motel door, the stale room staring out

to sea. Which is how I see you before

my father interrupts us—you & I

goose-flesh white or as sexed red

as the mermaid’s red bulbs behind

the neon sign that read Sea Gypsy.

from Body of Dare Wright as Totem

Born to gingham at the shutter-clap,

to the shuttered sound of camera’s click,

a doll feeds the pigeons. Hopes for friends.

Opens louvered doors into secret rooms,

the vanity that is someone’s vanity,

someone’s lipstick, peeptoes, pill-box hats—

but whose? Whose hand spills a vase of roses

over the jewelry box but blames the bear?

What is self before it finds the louvered doors,

innocent of the mirrors it was framed upon, within?

from Variants on 'Under Bryant Park' Installation

of roots. And basalt. Below and through it

the words dripping water hollows out—

dissipates—a stone.

Cosmic drool from the cleft hobo chin,

the words dripping, water, hollows, out,

heel to hallway’s echo, echo in a head,

cosmic. Drool from the cleft, Hoboken,

compose the commuter’s passing,

heel to hallway’s echo echoing ahead

a train of words reverberated so,

composite. Commuters passing :

generations gone into the century’s gait,

from Statue Sketch : Nick Saban : Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Which is why Coach is up there leaning shouting

let’s go let’s go let’s go! May be we’re in it for good or

blood or may be we’re going national from D.C.

to California, but they’re making sure we keep

our bed sheets clean. Any moment they’ll walk in,

asking to speak to Alabama. Sherman ain’t in it,

we know that. We know every God-sent puff of air

in July when the county’s soggy with sun and thunder.