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Category archive for: Mark Bibbins

Look Who Came Dressed as the Sun

What’s worse, energy or ambition?

We used to say sincerity, now we can’t—

the wind not so easy to utter either

when it’s filling up your mouth.

Figure out something edible, a seed

at the source but nothing occurs.

If you write “ironic detachment”

in your orange notebook again

I’m going to throw it into a fire

even if I have to make a fire.

When one gets a handle on blame—

it’s beneficial for the critic to have

a few extra fingers—it allows one

to fabricate more useful than usual

perversions. A man stepped off the train

holding a pale green thing which might

have been a takeout salad or maybe

a lizard filling the cradle of meat

his fingers made. I tried to see

but he was gone—that’s how a lot

of stories end when someone smarter

than you doesn’t like you either.

It’s basically always me in here

but I’m less crucial than the light

that shoots through every window

I walk by and floods me almost with joy.

from They Don’t Kill You Because They’re Hungry, They Kill You Because They’re FullFind it in the library

Copyright © 2014 Mark Bibbins
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

It Buds, It Bends, It Dies in the Glare

after Kristin Hersh

Never mind math, mind

fire: underneath

and shredding, still does.

What good’s fortune meant

to do—an aperture, a slur—

fault what you turn into

upon looking in any wrong

direction. Where did you,

when did you, meager

youthface and no shirt.

Fine to be alone, to fall

in a box of light alone, to take

it with you allover, finding

certain others, therefore, gone.

Limit seen of snowsqualls,

sandstone, snails—none

your fault but find it here—

a hundred blood footprints

on the bathroom tile

and you’re never getting out.

from The Dance of No Hard FeelingsFind it in the library

Copyright © 2009 Mark Bibbins
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Conifers

I grew into a stuffed animal who wanted

only to insert himself into the fossil record,

to test the mettle of a closeted end

of starless January. [You hurtle forward, you grab

someone’s waist: it’s as all scouts

know.] I was loosed in dormant sumac;

this much someone, someone else retained. When

it burns you move away

is good enough advice. [Move

advice that burns, burn off

perception of selflessness, get the regard

of a thing: deer ending

afternoon against the snow

holding on to trees, crepuscular trees,

with an almost yellow whatsit overhead.]

Here all can be reduced

to twigs lashing cheeks

as the snowmobile crests another white hill.

Let dim and distraction weave into

our scarves, shrink

our boots till we put a hood

to ice at the edge of the stream,

then drink what’s seeping up

and hope it’s clear.

from The Dance of No Hard FeelingsFind it in the library

Copyright © 2009 Mark Bibbins
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

There Is No You Are Everywhere

I’m not sure how it got this early or why we needed

to keep the evening in what we would much later

agree was motion. What could grow so marvelous

and where might I’ve met you—only endless want

lay ahead, but we figured we’d earned it. Desire our

birthright, rebate checks clog the mailbox and spill

onto the lobby floor—account for them when

you get home; now run naked at the gulls

all you like, I’m waiting for August right here.

Whatever you say sounds better with your thigh

against mine and caught in the camera-phones

of our undoing. Yes you told me what I need

but Brooklyn’s awfully far to go for something

you don’t even believe; what’s miraculous is that

we ever managed to be specific. What’s tedious:

insufficiently scandalous secrets. We dig up fire

from nearly anywhere but you’re too burnt to burn

or admit we wanted to try what feels almost new.

from The Dance of No Hard FeelingsFind it in the library

Copyright © 2009 Mark Bibbins
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Factory

He can say it was a painting

He can say we were the painting

Or that the painting wasn’t painting

And we only happen to ourselves

We can say we kept things running

by creating distractions

from the hideous truth

of how things run

That we were broken

That we lingered near a broken factory

That we had broken

We can say that the disappointment

of slicing into a leek

and not finding the requisite layers

but a thick white inedible core

is not the disappointment

of approaching a sleeping animal

only to learn that it is dead

but it does nudge one slightly

further into despair

We said despair

We meant the strings of impossible

instruments that they made

in the factory

That we had seen

That were broken

That there were different paintings

That could be played as songs

We had seen other things

That we had seen

That had come unstrung

And blown between adjacent bridges

Whose river had presented us a city

That was broken

That we had been

That we were broken

That was our city

This was our city

that was a song replaying itself in the dark

from They Don’t Kill You Because They’re Hungry, They Kill You Because They’re FullFind it in the library

Copyright © 2014 Mark Bibbins
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

We are not kissing and the river

tricks the boat. Even at night,

colors freeze when they would

rather bleed. He likes delay,

he says, the long ascent to sex.

[first his finger to his lips]

He of the somewhere-wadded-up

mainsail, half hard and too tired

[to the knuckle now] to try—

when in doubt he demurs

then dissolves, spooked

as I and twice as strange.

The glass we handed back

and forth sits on the sill:

mouth- and fingerprints

overlap, more reasonable

as a form of mimesis [out now

and glistening] than simple

trajectory—and what about

the bridge, under which

the boat [back in, slowly,

slowly] has slipped, its

chain of lights, distorted

by the edge of the glass,

just now turned on?

from The Dance of No Hard FeelingsFind it in the library

Copyright © 2009 Mark Bibbins
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Clouds Mistaken for Nearby Clouds

You could resist a melody

but who will be killed

if one just appears,

as a moon in daylight might.

If I believed in god

I’d thank it for making

irony: tiny neon frogs

and baroque jellyfish

so beautiful they can

go ahead and kill you

without even having

to feel like it.

Hush, everyone

screaming down there,

we can’t hear the new

album everyone loves,

you have to be serious

all the time or else

everyone dies. Well,

from They Don’t Kill You Because They’re Hungry, They Kill You Because They’re FullFind it in the library

Copyright © 2014 Mark Bibbins
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Almost as Good as What We Destroyed

Feigned outrage, real idiocy—how do we delete

what’s onscreen when someone put a foot

through it last night. The perks

of taxis emerge as the bus goes over a canal,

then a cliff; if it helps to grip my hand

as we plummet, you can.

A book with no table of contents, no index—

you want to trust that waiting will

reward you with less waiting,

but I wouldn’t. Any vehicle is terrifying when

it goes too fast on unfamiliar roads, and by

terrifying I mean beautiful,

a fluke of white and blue light. I want to address

a Vespa in the second person, want it to

respond, but it’s done with me.

Not to be ignored, I invent an incline so steep

that when a truck ascends, it flips

over backwards—the same

sensation rips me out of sleep—in other

words, far too beautiful to bear.

A passenger recurs, always

in a different seat, and won’t adhere

to my schedule, but I am too

weak to ask whether

we’re running ahead or behind. Who would

know. When I melt this way I relish

the cool air forcing

me back inside my skin. Look around, there

are fewer possibilities, so let’s call

what we do pedestrian, scrub

every other description. We’ve taken wing.

I offered you my hand before—

maybe you should take it.

from They Don’t Kill You Because They’re Hungry, They Kill You Because They’re FullFind it in the library

Copyright © 2014 Mark Bibbins
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Poem That Wants to Know When You’re Taking out the Trash

Most of the people from the present

are gone now; we never held them

very tightly, but what our wounds lack

in depth, they make up for in breadth.

If living is a sort of punishment or reward,

well there’s no way I can finish

that sentence. I’m so young, I have

to show you how many years

with my fingers. The only thing worse

than advice is an opinion. This paper

bag is full of them, and a lone

hydraulic squeal is telling me

it’s garbage night. The moon agrees,

which you may think it automatically does,

but more and more it seems it won’t.

from They Don’t Kill You Because They’re Hungry, They Kill You Because They’re FullFind it in the library

Copyright © 2014 Mark Bibbins
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.