The following selection is from the collection, “THE APNEA POEMS,” by Bill Yarrow.
EYES OFF THE ROAD
One by one I lost my desires.
Dirty ambition left first.
Knowledge raged but then it cooled.
Riches never had the hook very deep.
Achievement uncoupled from success seemed pointless.
Friendship became recursive.
Appetite lost its urgency.
Form declined into artifice.
Love stopped feeding me so I stopped feeding it.
Insight evaporated when memory left.
Lust lingered longest.
My desires, gaily arrayed, bolted to a
lapis slab, await me in Heaven.
With any luck I’ll go to Hell.
“A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us”
—Franz Kafka, Letter to Oskar Pollak
Was there, he wondered, some parasite,
some infiltrated germ, some totalitarian
pest, asbestos fiber, cancerous
particle, irradiated isotope, sliver
of glass, peach pit, foam nugget,
stray hair, impinged corpuscle,
magnesium wad, metaphysical
quill or arrant stalk moored in him
or what? Why was it so difficult to move
toward anything? Was his will congealed?
His doctor recommends an Arctic cruise.
He travels to a frozen stream, a frozen
lake, a frozen sea. He photographs the
awesome ice. A glacier calves inside him.
DRINKING AN ORANGE JULIUS WHILE LISTENING TO PINK FLOYD
I was strapped for cache so I called my friend Paolo
who wears Ecuadorian gray and prefers Celine to Celan
and asked him how to juggle all the crap life was throwing my way,
and he said, “Boyo, take your chessboard to Andorra and mate someone,”
but having already done that that was no help at all, so I grabbed one of my
shelf improvement books and read: “I saw the best minds of my generation
enter law school” and realized that all the works I thought I knew had been
defaced by assassins. I asked the Wife of Bathroom for a hit of Releve.
She handed me the anodyne and went off to make chicken a la Siegfríed.
I drifted into dream: a man in a turquoise slicker sat on a skittish horse
wearing an iron hat. He was pointing at a group of children in the housewares
section of Wal-Mart playing catch with the throw rugs. A tsunami was rolling
through the aisles. The man bellowed, “Watch out!” but he couldn’t force their attention.
The waters poured over all the products of mankind. Death came as a scythe of relief.
It’s never easy to say. One minute I was
watching waiters carrying whiskey sours
to tourists in striped tents. The next minute
the bay was littered with corpses. I even saw
a dead monkey. The tsunami rushed in as
terrifyingly and inevitably as the immediate
unraveling of a marriage you always suspected
was sound. Who knows what explanation
God would have come up with? He’s always
conveniently unavailable for an interview. So
we turn to scientists, those apologists of the
divine, duped by their own intelligence into
believing in reasons. All the reasons I saw
that day lay face down in the indiscreet earth.
About the Poet:
Hard copies of “THE APNEA POEMS” can be purchased at Barnes & Noble.