POEM WITH AN UNHINGED JAW
Echolalia! Chest full of people.
Most days I am enough, sometimes
more than that. It’s often all I can do
not to shout names I wish I was called
into the windy face of the Matterhorn.
Sometimes there is a carnival barker
whose face is my grandfather’s,
which is to say mine, but sharper
after the war, the sharks that circled
unseen through the usual channels
and veins. What’s the point of blood
if not looping? Arcade tickets gushing
from the machine, spoiling on the floor.
From the willows hang doves, veils,
bonnets. From the boats resting in the harbor,
anchors. Their chains sway, a slight breeze
in the water. Teeth, always in the vicinity.
Fear is consciousness leaving the body.
The animal unburying, the steel hull
ripped through again, the sharks, again.
Why have I brought me here?
Childhood haunt devoid of worded meaning,
just colors, smells, slight movement—
wherein I raise the dead, and hope to share
this living. Wherein the dead come
unbidden, shadows on the park grasses
unanswered, the sun rephrasing
its question; holes around me,
gaps that suggest explanations exist, the way
a mitt infers the baseball, the arm
and windup. If I could consume it all
I would, keep this safe and stayed
inside me. We return to memory, to what
end—what do we hope to bring back with us?
THE ELOCUTIONER’S SON
Necktie, a forked Windsor.
automated: quick throughput
on his shirt buttons, an
arpeggio. There’s gospel
abutting his collarbones,
a hidden ornament.
Tonite, he is sheet music
static-clung to a subway car.
The golden flush of an evening
worn out from the orbit
of a small star, champagne
flutes seeping color.
Tomorrow he will stand
behind his father
who’ll ring the bell
at the NYSE,
whose American Dream
lies caged in the basement
of his chest, and glows
up from out the bars
of his lips. The son, his eyelids
close like waxing moons.
Knows the jungle’s shadow
from his father’s description,
adds the score, the strings
tense, drawing out—hi-def,
he’s seen war paint reflected
in a bullet. Walks this
city and points
his fingers like keys
at the doors. Night opens
to the next, all that is
next, first fruit of idea hung
from every doorknob.
He’s got the right word
to strike against any other,
the means for heat and verb.
He’s got twenty-seven friends
who know the blues.
Brandon Amico lives in North Carolina. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, The Awl, Booth, The Cincinnati Review, New Ohio Review, and Verse Daily, among others. You can follow him on Twitter, @amicob, or visit him at www.brandonamico.com.