10-20-2016

Marcus Wicker

Interrupting Aubade Ending in Epiphany

Could I call this poem an aubade if I wrapped it
in fragrant tissue paper? If I locked this morning

in the mind's safe deposit box and polished it
66 times per day, until a sky's description noted

the number of feathers on a sparrow's left wing
and the crab grass jutting from his uppity beak?

I once wrote a poem about a fruit fly orgy
in a grape's belly. It's crescendoed combustion

was supposed to represent the speaker's feelings
for a wife named Joy. That poem never really

worked out. This poem is aware of its mistakes
and doesn't care. This poem wants to be a poem

so bad, it'll show you a young smitten pair 
poised in an S on a downy bed. The man inhales

the woman's sweet hair and whole fields
of honeysuckle and jasmine bloom inside him.

He inhabits a breath like an anodyne and I think
I could call this poem an aubade if it detailed

new breath departing his mouth. I think I could
get away with that. Because who knows what

that even means? Maybe I mean
that's safer than saying it straight

like, This is about the woman I'll marry. 
How one summer, she hit snooze four times

each sunrise. This is about her smiling
and nodding off, and smiling, and listening

to me mumble into the back of her perfect
freckled shoulder about anything but poetry.

And this morning at my desk, in the midst
of a breath, I remember not every moment

needs naming. I know precisely what to call this.

 

Ars Poetica in the Mode of J-Live

It's like this, Anna:

shell banged bare
with a bat, Anna

vat of gun powder 
shed, Anna

famished bird
fed off scraps, Anna

gut-itch flown
south for life, Anna

dropper's stool self-pecked 
slow, Anna

wince or stool
dropped again, Anna

bird sifting
through his shit, Anna

slug built by a bird's
beak, Anna

small handgun. 
It's like this, Anna

gun the bird
doesn't grip.

It's like this, Anna.
It's like that.

It's like that
and like this.


Love Letter to Flavor Flav 

                              We know we are beautiful. And ugly too.
                                     -Langston Hughes

I think I love you.
How you suck fried chicken grease
off chalkboard fingers, in public!
Or walk the wrong way down an escalator
with a clock around your neck.
How you rapped about the poor
with a gold tooth-grin.
How your gold teeth spell your name.
How you love your name is beautiful.
You shout your name 100 times each day.
They say, if you repeat something enough
you can become it. I'd like to know:
Does Flavor Flaaav! sound ugly to you?
I think it's slightly beautiful.
I bet you love mirrors.
Tell the truth,
when you find plastic Viking horns
or clown shades staring back,
is it beauty you see?
Or Vaudeville?
To express myself honestly enough;
that my friend, is very hard to do.

Those are Bruce Lee's words.
I mention Bruce Lee here, only
because you remind me of him.
That's a lie. But your shades do
mirror a mask he wore
as Green Hornet's trusty sidekick.
No, I'm not calling names.
Chuck D would have set cities on fire
had you let him.
You were not Public Enemy's sidekick.
You hosed down whole crowds
in loud-mouth flame retardant spit.
You did this only by repeating your name.
Flavor Flaaav! Flavor Flaaav!
I think I love you. I think I really might
mean it this time.
William. Can I call you William?
I should have asked 27 lines ago:
What have you become?
How you've lived saying nothing
save the same words each day
is a kind of freedom or beauty.
Please, tell me I'm not lying to us.

 

-from Maybe the Saddest Thing, selected by Guest Editor Phillip B. Williams

BIO: Marcus Wicker is the recipient of a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, a Pushcart Prize, The Missouri Review’s Miller Audio Prize, as well as fellowships from Cave Canem and The Fine Arts Work Center.  His previous collection Maybe the Saddest Thing, a National Poetry Series winner, was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award.  Wicker’s poems have appeared in The Nation, Poetry, American Poetry Review, Oxford American, and Boston Review. His second book, Silencer, is forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2017.