Unpredictable, meticulous, a bit goofy, deadly serious, vulnerable, dry—BJ Soloy's poems contain these multitudes. I love the way his poems manage to feel at once humane and searing, so fresh and so rooted in a deep understanding of poetics and poetry history. The work, like BJ himself, is that heady combination of maturity and childlike wonder, shoegazing and stargazing. [AG]
AGING AS A SERIAL CORRECTION
Your favorite power balladeers disband,
or should. Santa Claus, James Bond, step-parent,
Superman; only stable in franchise.
In serial. The words themselves lose
form. The night bellies,
unseeming its over-worn gown.
It gets too cold to dally,
Julie finds one white hair, then a pair
scouting around your boy bangs, which disappoints
if you’d been hoping to go instantly,
no forecast. A shock.
It’s not that simple, then
it is, even simpler.
Which is it?
Which is what?
That’s not an answer.
That’s not a question.
What are you reading?
Now I’m reading a book about rats.
Then I just up & saw a rat.
Ditto with the bird book before it.
Now a palmed cloud alights, its unlearned
limbs flapping. Birdshadow across the window,
puppeteering. Then there’s bottleshell, filter-
weed, other indigenous litter. A father
with a daughter on his shoulders. The sound I make
when startled. The face I make at children.
The way I cut an onion.
It’s my signature, but not my name, & it ends
on a mystery chord. The tape stops
& I’m not going to flip it again.
This is in three
This is in four
These ballads are endearing
but unending This traffic
a slur Let's share
a $7.99 bottle of wine
this rumor of new weather
To the species of moth that lives
entirely on cow tears
To the pigs that killed off the Dodo
To strangers as prototypes
friends as foils
juissance as comeuppance
I envy your orgasm(s)
Your birthday turns you
thirty And you said "right leading"
but meant light reading
I will go with you
to the tidefits
usher you in uncovered
No more city slickery
No more weeping
in the grocery store aisle light
We'll muddy the borders—
Texhoma, Kansarado, Calexico
These are predictions
Presently, I wake up
guilty for sleeping in
You left hours ago,
your lozenges sucked small,
given up on, stuck along the sill.
In my time,
I pass by a stranger & think,
"We look alike." & am right.
Not all coincidence substantial,
neither all miracles suspect.
In 1977, a boy found a tooth
growing on his left foot.
In the early '80s, a toad was discovered
that meowed instead of croaking.
In 1986 a guard in an armored car
was killed when $50,000
worth of quarters fell on him.
A taste of sick pennies my throat
through the day, still cold
thinning towards Spring,
picking its own chastity
belt, trailing petals, shameless
Creeley: "The trees, goddamn
them, / are huge eyes."
These are mostly decorative.
Sometimes when I read something
I say that I've "heard" it.
I heard that whale songs rhyme.
Delicate as butter sculpture, supple
as soft nipple, the clouds
are drawn in, slink into curtsy,
wink at the blinking boughs.
The evening's shaping up to be.
& we need our cavernous belly,
our tiny & immense.
I took a nap,
had wanted an apple, something
cheap & delicious, i.e.
a hand-rent salad of which I'd eat
a piece of each
part while making.
Instead I slept.
me as corkscrew
me as boatswain
as black swan
you as feather tree
We are circling, limping
a strathspey step in the living
& anyway, just because I engender it
doesn't mean I enjoy it.
Curled into a comma, let's see
a man transferring loneliness
to a leg-
lock to a pillow.
They call it a Dutch Wife
but what's that say about they
about the Dutch
about a wife?
BRAILLE OF BONE,
It feels like I’ve been awake for hours. And I have. A migraine, Athena.
There’s so much to listen to in our new apartment. Mostly heat: Radiators throatsinging. The lesser coffee pot. My fever.
I have all of your notes in my wallet, like identification, or currency. Do you have any plans for our family band? Does the State Fair circuit scout, or are we pandering here? We’ll get your autoharp tuned soon & drink enough whiskey to think we can sing. “Family” will be in our name. I hope they’ve my lack of shame, your everything else.
Finger Rake, there’s so much to read on your back—
The wake ribslotted.
alley light catching the knotted sprawl your spine.
curve’s interruption cast as shadow. My favorite book.
Rewind to the first kiss and how unlikely it was that no one walked into the women’s room. I’d been yours for so long. And why not have beautiful handwriting, an accent, a visual trill, our secret life of letters?
Your tiny throat I imagine lacquered with birdsong.
Your wintered skin my feather bed.
This morning you left early and I went to the bus stop without you. Trash blew to the curb & a pigeon gave chase, cueing a flock, 'copters to the crash. It reminded me of just last week, passing the dead bird building, ringed with nothing but wings.