Nathan Parker

Recline with me.
Against this average cologne barrel.
Under this sweet potato–colored moon.
To this complex bow tie violin music.
In old sweaters and dog poop sneakers.
Twill winch our souls to.
Medium heights.
Where power lines stream into the great wide
Power lines.
Black veins the static blood of which burns bird feet.
Smooch my bony cheek.
Careful with my beard.
There’s stuff in it.
Just below my stone eye is best.
See the table over there.
All laden with cinnamon incense and cloth honeysuckle.
It is for us.
I’ve boiled you a dinner of egg whites.
And crunchy lettuce.
In those razor-thin wine glasses there’s some icy ice water.
The bowl of limes is in case you like limes.
I thought afterward we could play War.
With some playing cards I bought while touring Indianapolis.
Would you like to slow dance with me right now?
The cologne from this barrel has permeated your hair fantastically,
There’s the cold tater moon above us,
The violin party in that gazebo over there,
And our souls, tangled in the power lines like wayward grocery bags,
With these jumbo monarchs swooping in our pelvises I think
Wo there, what’s this funny stuff, I waddle stiffly, I don’t spin.
Stroll with me.
Down this wet street-lampless street.
Please lead me by the hand. Rather,
Put your arm around my narrow shoulders
And squeeze like hell, my vision is,
That’s a lie, you smell nice, and I’m frightened.



A thin corridor—just painted,
a tornado shelter I think,

shortcut from a shopping mall
to an empty parking lot.

I took it.
Hair of whose white dog all over me. No receipt,

a papery umbrella that wouldn’t catch,
a T-shirt,
a gradually sharpening sleet.

If this is worth your time,
I said to the security-girl.

She in slacks and wet black hair,
very nervous.

Is this really worth what little time we’ve got,
this white hair, this dirtily, dirtily, this,

I guess this poor stinking birdless lot?
She pulled a State-fair-bought

flat circular rainbow sucker
from her mouth,

pressed it delicately to my new dark suit,
tossed it to the gravelly sea.

It broke. Four equal pieces,
a rash of earring-size chips.

There was nothing to talk about
at dinner,

we knew, after sleeping together,
there would be nothing to talk about,

I shouldn’t dare mention her cleaning me,
so we did not.


Nathan Parker’s recent poems appear or are forthcoming in American Letters & Commentary, Colorado Review, Quarterly West, Sonora Review, and Octopus Magazine. He lives in Alabama with his dear wife, Christie, and one-year-old son, Noah, and teaches English at the University of Alabama.


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