Paul Stephens


"we are gawks"
--Lorine Niedecker

When this long day glazes
and the peoplifications gang up
comparing themselves advertently
and even the sink is sleepy
in my heart's lake-ascription
unwriting the great bounce
of your eyes while the pews
and all those in them lean forward.
This I think as deplaning
from engine reverse surge
to run into kind particularities
togethered in themselves
in praise of in lieu of in the sky
that swills our legs loop up.

Fable of the Bees


Gamma shower morning
heads in the no joke pop
doze field bordered by bare topped
taller than thy neighbor's trees.

Buffa in the seria
of my sights split infinitive sunrise
cicadas and more cicadas.

A hobo in the on of my thought-train,

       of rain shadows
and elementary propositions:
he was an ace death-distracter,
best of his kind, ranked highly
on the attention span surveys.

          Chrome rain sidewalks
          low-flying ripples
          in the sun-hole morning
                   if and or

Throng me into expulsions, galore no
reservations needed, muzzles
of funnel clouds and brooms
of recycled air and other

  separated effects.

                          Blazing bossiness
                     of the predetermined
                       where I am in some
                       corner of your shelf
                  operatically insufficient
                  to the scale of events-
        Brainy Smurf's broken glasses.

Furloughed again into the jessamine snow,
head in the lap of the valley, lap of the sky,
flagrant off-key singing meadows-
persimmon-scatter September
up and down across green lights.

(The message is coming.)

Chromatic skylight sun
shining commingling sidewalk

along broken guns and abandoned
dictatorships of your first
qualification for this job will be not
to let on how much money you're making.

  Or if you'd rather
  and in the beak of the night
  takeout and beer

Some nub in the back
stacking clouds in your eyes
zippers along the dials
marble elbows mountains
white with space
-itisemmal  as
as would as like or like and like

Wiper's ticking
slow dark blocks
turn left at the light
fourteenth sequence funk
from the particulate side.


 Polished mags forsooth
 for the car in the swimming pool.

Sergeant Slaughter's daughter
defcon four outside tonight.

Phlogiston explanations
forthcoming from Standards and Practices.

At the annual meeting we resolved
to ban cars from Manhattan
but were condemned as artsy-fartsy
comedians lacking patriotism.
We resorted to surrealism.

The pirated copies of our lives-
the halcyons of our exaggerations-
every second I submit to you
is suing on its own behalf
and we lag in tort-reform behind
all the other states. Believe you
this, origins, we will not fail to smoke
you out of PBS' caves.

From the gamma shower
to the plasma of uncomplaining guts.
What? So svelte? Do you feel
that hammer in your hand hammering?
Or do masses find us squinting hidden
in bathrooms being our bodies?
At the porno edge of the highest shelf.

Searching for a way not to go wrong,
sing a song in the shower, loud, out of tune.

Plush back with me, my little sparkplug
of the nomenklatura, who laughs
like that? Not palaver for lunch
again, really, what will we say
decades from now? The shower scene
will need to be redone. I hunt for you
among couchgrass, crabgrass, never sure which.

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