poems by Jeremy Nathan Marks

Olympiastadion

 

My throat was sore in Berlin

Als das Kind Kind war

so I missed the Reichstag fire

but on television saw

the Wall come

down

You couldn’t walk for

the myriad cranes

taking off and landing

with the same beat of wings

as chiselers

 

I had more hair then

before tides of aging made

it thin

 

My chin was white and

face handsome though pale

and solemn

but my body not so slender.

At the sight of Olympiastadion

I felt a shortness of breath

just as when I fumbled my papers

at the checkpoint

where deer made bounding

white points in a

brown field.

 

To drink schnapps beneath

the Kieferns, nein

it was still long before noon

and I had yet to read that scrawl

in the refrigerator top notebook which

said you can’t go home again

 

Even though they tell me that Aeschylus wrote

‘Exiles feed on hope, we all know that’

and ‘boast while you feel brave like a cock

beside his hen!’

The city was too large

my eyes were too red

and going home to Washington

scoured no horizon.

 

I could only follow wooden crossbeams

between two iron rails.

 

 

 

J. Strauss’s waltz

 

At sixteen I wanted to dance J. Strauss’s waltz

in Viennese ballrooms among buxom

Contessas

 

It probably sounds like a lie when I say how I

found defenestration more interesting

than their cup size

 

But, alas, it is true

 

Then I never had a penny in my purse

but I did have therapists to nurse.

 

I told him and I told her that I needed an

education of the hands, that none of the things

I was set to say sounded like the Great Voice and

 

And I was too young to be a quote thief

 

In April, once I turned seventeen I planted

an ornamental pear whose snow white bloom

 

 

Still stinks; a juvenile, it attracted armies of ants

who humped their way across the rut of that arboreal

elk while I lay on my back beneath its camisole listening

to robins propagate.

 

 

 

Vitamin Sales

The journey I’ve made transforms the face of the world.Eurydice (Orphée)

 

Who now reads the Lou Reeds

through wild clarinets that chip their performer’s

teeth

 

Well-furnished Lower East Side

coffee cups replete with books about Third World

revolutions

 

Che and Ungovernable Cities

of suits trying to dodge their hydrant rush

of ghetto dialogues, broken windows, the uncollected

garbage pinned to February pavement

 

Wilson and Bratton

please find a way to make the rats go away:

nickel penalties, jaywalk laws and a valediction

upon the Piss Christ

 

Under the curfews of transcendental meditation

please don’t go looking for the mountain

 

 

The answer is on Wilshire

where a deal done wrong over the sale of vitamins

kept Eurydice from coming home.

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