Poetry

NARCISSUS

(For Robert Kelly)

A chain lets go of a rocket-shaped car
The sun above the pier is a prop
 
I don’t trust men in fluorescent vests driving green golf carts
If an accident happens it won’t be to them
 
Confidence is measured by an ability to avoid disaster
He quit drinking after he fell trying to climb the fence into Trinity churchyard
 
He said, “Do you think our friendship can stand another fuck?”
A cook is never the animal he butchers
 
Modernism, abstract expressionism, the Black Mountain School
I don’t know what movement I’m part of and I’m not part of it anyway
                                                              
Bellied fathers, boys in cargo shorts
It’s difficult to sympathize with or relate to others
 
The loudspeaker plays “God Bless America”
Resistance is conspicuous and confusing
 
The beach is fully half water
Bullet trails cross the surface of waves
 
The wind hits me all at once and is constantly renewed
It’s sensual and loving, like a snake
 
No one can tell me how to do this
My feet are firmly planted
 
Every experience is singular
A bomb in Paris, corruption in government
 
will not expand into the future
This is a mild form of suffering

 

copyright c Karen Schoemer 2016

Karen is the Virginia Scholar for Autumn 2016

 
(A collection of images by Karen Schoemer during residency)

(A collection of images by Karen Schoemer during residency)

WHAT’S INSIDE WHAT I ALREADY KNOW

Jays screech on either side of me.  
A train passes north to south.
The sky is white along the tree line.
Insects sing to summer, which is leaving soon.
 
I said, “Tell me things you’d tell me if you were drunk.”
It’s a game I play, myself against an opponent I can’t see or describe.
I lean into his shoulder, cupping into memory.
The chain of events peters out, ending mysteriously.
 
A catbird complains, then falls silent.
Leaves spread and scatter light.
Why is it as if there’s always something wrong?
Minute injustices I’ve committed follow me across night into day.
 
From afar everything seems innocent.
All words are one, each pinned to each object in the field of language.
I don’t hear the jays—I note their absence.
Then I hear them—a ghost sound.
copyright c Karen Schoemer 2016
Karen is the Virginia Scholar for Autumn 2016

I CALL IN A JAY’S VOICE BECAUSE I AM A JAY

Some strange bird is crying.
I hear a rumble, maybe a train.
Around the rim of the field trees begin to turn.
Summer holds on, as winter does, long after you expect it to be gone.
 
I said, “I love you because you let me.”
I still don’t know if I was right.
A loving gesture in the context of alienation is lonelier than silence.
The thread of disaster is impossible to follow through time.
 
Blackbirds rise in small bunches and resettle.
The sun sinks behind hills and stretches a shadow.
How do words join action? By what slender tissue?
My mouth is hard and flat, thinking about it.
 
Language plays with me, pushes me around.
Consciousness fools me into thinking I’m subject instead of object.
Water flows under the bridge and is gone.
The certainty of love rises after anger dies down.

 

copyright c Karen Schoemer 2016

Karen is the Virginia Scholar for Autumn 2016

(Collection of images by Karen Schoemer during residence)

(Collection of images by Karen Schoemer during residence)