Matt Kilbane



The pale maple carrel
    in the library's periodical stacks
gives itself easy
    to the notched glyph,

and the tinny plaint
    of a student's cranked-up
headphones honeycombs
    the silence. I've got

to handle you, my memory
    genius, with oven mitts
as it requires zero
    effort to mar a thing—

we're the unprepared
    young burdened with records
I think, dice Pound. It
    coheres all right. Emma, be

co-here with me. Thready
    thin tube sock of fall
light through library glass, quite
    enough to see by. You

I have had sometimes, body
    et al. and I want
more records yet, I want the wildly
    readable annals of that.




Just some pillow talk of Dickens' Pip. Then the sublet where we slept
the afternoon through
          did a righteous thing: it stopped

"its hackneyed corporeal paraphrase." Stopped its walled-in reek of fresh          
paint and missed
          garbage day. The ceiling's

panting fan, the sun slatted on the bare wall, and our bed threading              
some concealed and
          narrow strait—for a moment

these ceased assuring us of their capacity to steward experience. Like
an ice-cube dunked
          into cool onion soup. What

Donne would've called an "Extasie." And why, wherefrom? Perhaps
my wondering aloud
          at what rate of interest

Pip would've paid of his college loans, or how lying under a coverlet
all day is the best
          new battle strategy

for the impending class war, managed to somehow trip a wire to the
infinite. Cause aside,
          this deific whittling down

dissipated before we knew it. Like a lover's slap, the finite came back
online: public radio
          prattling on about the Upper

Midwestern employees striking furiously. The humidifier steaming
hard, so clearly
          the oracular crack in our atemporal

temple floor over which no all-knowing sybil stewed. Then a man out
the window, beyond
          the sill's seven potted cacti,

who'd been trying to tuck for ten minutes his grass-green Volvo into a
tight curb spot,
          gave up and rounded the block.




    ...so I did sit and eat, Herbert concluded and so
do I, between waffle bites reading
about tulip mania, that Dutch bulb bubble in 1637
when speculative futures jacked a flower's price
    to 10,000 guilders, 50 years of food and clothes
for a family of four. But I close the book
because what I keep coming to—can't help it—is Plath
harassed by her tulips too excitable,
    their woundy red poxing the white of her
hospital room where she lay convalescing
post-appendectomy, 1961. A purchase of Ted's, no doubt,
    like the Amsterdam man, big-time merchant,
who liquidates his fleet for one bouquet and sniveling
    his lover's apology proffers it
to the wife he wronged, who promptly sneezes.
Maybe it's too easy, but it's occurred to me before
    that gifts and giving might be one way
to meaningfully oppose the tyranny
of late capital: the time you received on your birthday
flowers from an ex—with my pocketknife,
we removed as by ritual their blooms and plugged them
    between our toes, to beautify the steps we took,
room to room, our house, this life.







Straight up love poems, with apologies to Pound, Dickens, Donne, Herbert, and Plath.