h o m e........
p a s t   i s s u e s....
s u b m i s s i o n s....
l i n k s

 

 

.........
JULIE SHEEHAN



.............
THAT SMUG AGRARIAN PHASE


  

Welter with me, bully. Roll your cuffs,
let me be had, held, cheapened, Physiocrat.

Flat as contact paper, belly quick
to shudder, slow to soak, land likes it rough,

so don’t be shy with sillion, trenchant partner.
Handfast that haft and furrow your fair trade.

All fields stay put, but farmers emigrate
to hated cities, which drive their contracts harder,

their merchants haggling for hairy toeholds.
They can’t touch me so long as, slung like clover

over the rust belt, your arms use me. Exchange
my yield for coin, you may, before the ranging

sun (that ancient tale!) slits my comforter.
You glutton for grist, you steal across my threshold.







.............
THE EXHAUSTED LYRIC
   

Heat lightning under lids. This wormwood lover
Conducted: Looking down
On my fuller lip. Harder. I like. Hands, his sycamore

Roots clamped Good Ground.
Rimshot on yes. It, he pronounced.  Ironclad finger
Bore eyes and fire around

The nails. This Ashbery lover slapped (liked blood)
At my apparition. Squeezed
An afternoon of me, Jesus, easy as angelfood.

More tired imagery. I’m since become displeased
Air escaping a pocket’s
Threadbare condition.  That arm’s hairy, can’t fleece

From behind his wallet
Promise. He’s finite, all right, with bills past bloated,
Viking in a kitchenette.

(I can look down too.) Galilean in a 40-watt housecoat.
Happy crying terry-striper.
My return fire: dessert, desertion. Left him shorted.







...............

THE FUNDAMENTAL PROPERTIES OF INTEGERS

             “If the kite was the gun, then tar, the glass-coated cutting line, was the bullet in the chamber.”
            --from The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini



   

1. Commutative Property: x + y = y + x

Line up, any order has a bad
connotation after dodge ball, Penn

Station, World War II, Stalingrad,
and the Industrial Revolution, when

the long crescendo to our playground howls
kicked off an interchangeability

between morale and mockery, a foul
or just war, human or commodity.

But put the notes in any order and see
what happens to the line. Even John Cage

had favorites, didn’t he? The recondite
Tam-Tam amid the junk, while center stage

the dancers practiced indeterminacy,
his secret pet in plain sight, a glass kite.

2. Associative Property: (x + y) + z = x + (y + z)

Two boys fly stunt kites, shutting out the third
who jostles stones and tries to hit the pier.

Five boys shut out three girls and commandeer
the tree house, so the girls, regrouped, must lure

imagined kites inside. The blonde-haired pair
lay claims to butterflies. The luna moth

is left to mourn her stasis. Solitaire
at midnight, piercings, studs: soon she’s gone Goth

because the parenthetical adds up
to power, not the individual.

The loner shoots. The Pinkertons call shots.
A locked out striker’s “morally bankrupt.”

And the two black kids from school? It seems they’re not
invited, but that’s Constitutional.

3. Identity Property: x + 0 = x

If you invite a zero along, he makes
no difference. His parents watch too much

TV, the flat screen pulpy to his touch,
the shadow players crisp as the Great Lakes

on his topographic map, their peradventures,
like life, lifelike. One show asks hoarders to meet

their therapists. Will Cancer Tami unclench her
grip on trash’s special meaning to greet

the absence of things with rapture? Ask a zero:
the body’s immaterial, though spirit

sputters before the chrome-tinged cleaning spray
which eats up cornered dirt in ads. He’ll fear it 

always, as would any a smudge of clay:
the glass it leaves so blind, an antihero.

4. Inverse Property: –x + x = 0

My heroes vote Republican, yours vote
Democratic. See how it works? We’re fair or

balanced in how we swing by rote from arrow
to wilder quiver. Thank God quote-likely-unquote

voters exist in theory, like any god
who nags you to fix your age spots. Looking Good

For Jesus carries sparkle cream. On flawed
cheeks, He says, your moral turpitude

demands some make up. Say an act of contrition.
When posit fails, the opposite will knife

its way to zero, so here we are, still married,
a negative and plus, both necessary

to bring salvation not found in real life.
Democracy works on paper, like addition.

5. Closure Property: [real number] + [real number] = [real number]

I’m stuck in my whole self, indivisible.
When I imagine inverse selves, they, too,

are integral, but kids, like fractions, skew
the results: multiplied, we’re risible.

They skip out at night, fling starry kites to kiting
stars, and practice savage rituals.

What is their calculus? The overalls
they haven’t filled? They grow, the underwriting

hope they’ll keep their grades up picketing
the fence they jump so cleanly, until, cohering

against my will, they’ve grown up whole and one
another, denominations thickening

around the waist. Turn off that goddam theory!
Show your work! What’s done can be undone.







...........
CAPITALISM

            …reduce no Human Spirit
            To Disgrace of Price –-
                        Emily Dickinson, No. 709

      
   

There is no
Hand. There’s head
Instead.

The Dow bumps,
Rocks or plunges.
Surges

In confidence benefit
Verbs: red ink
Hits

A monthly high.
Battered tech stocks
Die.

How Wall Street
Hammers, hands free:
Liquidity

Leaves no mark
on auction blocks.
C’mon,

Ma! I barely
Touched her.
                        —You liar.
You hooker.





...........


  

BIO: Julie Sheehan’s three poetry collections are Bar Book: Poems & Otherwise, Orient Point and Thaw. Her honors include a Whiting Writers’ Award, NYFA Fellowship, the Barnard Women Poets Prize, and Fordham's Poets Out Loud prize. She teaches in and directs the MFA program at Stony Brook Southampton.



 

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