Two poems from Chris Schlegel’s Michigan
followed by a note on the author
Ephrata Community Players expelled H. for comportment
unbecoming a lead soloist. Our combined 50th birthday we celebrated
on the stairwell landing dividing Setu—having relit the boiler and
retired in a sweatsuit—from Aaron and wife K., since August an
adept in mapmaking. At midnight H.’s advisor phoned; offered a
brocaded lampshade for Roz (she there?); coffee Friday, Elsevier, but
tzak-tzak he’s got a fitting.
Agitating, pacifying were Coltrane, the tale of the widower in the
wine-cellar … and naphtha … and a visiting Fluxus stooge called
Rupert. Copy of Carrie, an elbow, Esther’s highball propped the
schoolyard-facing window. Indigo Kia, red hazards, wrong way.
Saturday next (instead of tech) I played P-I-G with Jim, she
backgammon on the counterpane with a clove.
Onscreen the olive forces surrendered, a sailor for the victors hung
his hauberk from the capstan.
Ralph could a thought for a day suppress,
a sensibility for two …
but wept at the fog and prayed by dew
that slicked the maze of the watercress.
“Let this my ardor ever swing
on a plumb-line down from my palsied heart.
Lease me my tongue but bind its art
that being bound retwines the string.”
The Great San Bernardino Birthday Party
MacArthur BART. Summer for superstition,
ice cubes from bottled water, baths, not showers,
mold—stunted palms beneath 580 East.
“Yep. Fell asleep at one, 16th and Mission …
No … later … Whidbey Island. End of June.
I asked if she was the photographer.
Annie. Watched them aerate the basin, mowers
whisking up acorns. Brass band. Brewer’s yeast,
coffee people. How’re the waves in Erie?”
Father swats at his son, prone in the rafters,
and the dropped sheaves sluice downstream until the dam.
“It works in practice. What about in theory?
Jess knew I stole her mail … not then. But after.”
“And she took you back?” “She did.” “You broke?” “I am.”
Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Christian Schlegel is a doctoral student in English at Harvard, where he’s writing his dissertation on Donald Justice. He studied German at Princeton and received an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. The Song Cave published his first book, HONEST JAMES, in 2015. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island.