Five Poems by Matt Hart


At last the dawn.  The dawn cuts up.
And I can almost breathe again.  The breath
goes smoke again.  It’s a smoke like balloons
when they’re clearing their throats.  I almost smell
blood.  I almost go to predators, but lately
my bed is an imaginary resting place resting.
I’m frozen in water.  I’m barely in passing.
You wouldn’t recognize me as a flight attendant.
Nor would you recognize the regular rhythm
of one home invasion to another.  One nurse’s
order to duck and take cover; the rock
in my shoe, indistinguishable from my foot.
O perfectly alive brontosaurus.  My backyard
a soap dish.  The pie in my face, still blueberry
I think.  A bruise of stars, a sink of bacteria.
A menu of strychnine where everything looks
delicious.  Sick lion in three pieces after coming
undone.  It’s California or my mother’s house,
then helium.  It’s breasts, enormous
buttercups, my cousins in the basement
with duct-taped horizons.  I’m wanted
in a dumpster in a dark parking lot.
It feels like I’m shot in the face with my face.


- with Dean Young and Dobby Gibson

I felt left of myself and was not breathing.
I felt right and there was light.
I turned to my best side and coughed.
By merely standing in the elevator
I scared you half to pieces.
I miss Paris. I miss Odysseus.
I eat a wounded orange in the park by the wall.
When it all falls away from the bone
it’s called citrus, and when
an early frost comes it’s called epic
little winter. As I spill the unspillable,
your drink droops long, though the end
of the rulebook says nothing about re-dressing.
The sun breaks a sweat and you,
the béchamel. I miss missing you.
I messed up.



A bird with its throat, I care not where,
but listening I think it’s essentially forever.
Some notes in my ear, your soul on a runway,
a soldier rolling pennies in some corner

of winter.  Where doesn’t matter.
Again and forever.  The listening
even hurting, but anywhere’s delightful—
night and day, week and Sunday.

And what about the heart in the sky
pink skyway?  What about the bird
turning into a mantis, then swallowing itself
in the bushes without thinking?  This is your singer

singing runway.  Your soldier
in love with a rose-tinted girl.  The bird
in your stomach, a windowsill blue,
missing in action, less flower than whirl.

But our relationship, too, is less than
it should be.  Paradise blue, your message
so soft.  When the distance goes off
like a gun, we get blasted.  That slap

on the horizon reverberates forever.
And when the stars leave the soldier, you
sew them into blankets.  The days and the nights,
love’s blue throat, the speaker in the bird throws a rock.



At random in our bodies,
this backyard swimming,
the blue water blue in relation
to the heavens, which echo

without being, and blown
out of proportion. Our time
on this planet is a baseball bat,
a hollowed-out log, the scaffolding

of a ballerina—all very different
things—though all of them hits,
and I am brittle with thingness
and coming to conclusions,

or forgetting all existence: the couch
in the dark, being on it.
Epistemology irks me, so I swim
in not knowing, even in the clearing

and the clearly where it hurts me
the suffering of ever more
miniscule beings, the hawk flying
into the building, and I don’t mean

inside, I mean into the perimeter, glass
shatter, stupid pigeon! Plug in
and proceed through each
statement’s truth value. Once again

mistaken for small children at the zoo.
Maybe this is autobiographical
or you with your pincers, hauled
out of the drinking, alphabet

gasping in a sunlight of butter, too much
amplifier as I tickle my daughter.
Nobody gets away from anguish.
The question is always
what to do with one’s hands.



If you could, you’d be so happy.
You could but you’re upside down.
You’re upside down, and all your blood
is flowing underground. Is two pints short
of a New York style pizza. Some deliver,
but others only take it.
This is something to be well aware of,
particularly in moments of rampant lycanthropy.
I Was a Teenage Werewolf,
starring Michael Landon,
had a profound effect on me,
in that it made me want to be a gymnasium,
a day of pureed sweet potatoes,
a man on a quest to be swallowed by Surrealism.
And here you can see
where art has gotten me,
but also I hope you can see through the stars
(Michael Landon most especially)
to something clearly philosophical and important:
“Whereof one cannot speak one must remain silent,”
wrote Wittgenstein, and then later refuted
the entire book of its appearance. Nevertheless,
I promise to be silent as soon as I say this:
Deep-sea fishing is boring in the same way that
planetariums are lame for existing at all,
yet both go the distance to the ends of the earth.
I couldn’t be happier, even right side up.
Here’s a silver bullet for your trouble.


Matt Hart Matt Hart

Matt Hart is the author of the poetry collections Who’s Who Vivid (Slope Editions, 2006) and YOU ARE MIST (MOOR Books, forthcoming), as well as the chapbooks, Revelated (Hollyridge Press, 2005), Sonnet (H_NGM_N Books, 2006), Simply Rocket (Lame House Press, 2007) and The Hours (Cinematheque Press, forthcoming). Additionally, a collaborative chapbook, Deafening Leafening, with poet Ethan Paquin, has just been published by Pilot Books. His work has appeared in many print and online journals, including Gulf Coast, Harvard Review, Jubilat, and Octopus. He lives and teaches in Cincinnati where he edits Forklift, Ohio: A Journal of Poetry, Cooking, & Light Industrial Safety.

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