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The Dumb Have the Advantage, by Jim Klein

Writing Behavior

I hope I have a heart attack
and drop dead right now.
I’ll just sit here by this window
throwing in some average light
and watch my pencil-ridden hand
wriggling across the page
in the rhythms of handwriting.
I hope this is so bad
I never have to read it again,
or, if I do, that I don’t
make many drafts of it,
finally reducing it to a folded note
I’ll flatten out when I get home
and add to the pile awaiting
even more of my refined attention.
I wish I didn’t have time for this,
though I have a killing schedule.
I hope I have some more wild hairs
so I can spend even more
of myself in writing behavior.
I wish alchemy would go away.
I wish I wasn’t planning to surprise
my woman with this in about
two hours lying in a white bed
like a red beet after a hot bath
on the brink of my hoped-for death.

Kansas City

The last thing expected
wore out this spring
in Kansas City.
A lot of crazy words
hit the side of a building,
and I never did find out
who the dumb bell belonged to.
The whole noodle turned sweetly.
Keeping it light wasn’t easy.
Anyone can pound it out smartly,
but it takes a real show off
on a wound-down piano stool
to play well over his head.
Whether you do or don’t,
the whole thing’s got to
catch you upsidethehead
like thrown paint.

———————————–

The Farm

It’s a farm,
but something’s wrong.
The truck faces the wrong way.
The lady has legs, yes,
but not held so,
and while nothing
could be realer than that sky,
I’ve never seen it.
Maybe it’s the banality
that’s lacking, the sign
between saucer and cup.
Too often we don’t get
the jolt of something to do
with something ordinary,
a farmer in the dirt.
We need spots
to wipe up, noses
to blow, and legs
like these to unfold.

———————————–

Florid Opportunity

The sun would get up,
we would too,
and we’d meet outside
in yellow conventicles.
Ache was there, it had to be,
but beauty being beauty
was everything,
florid opportunity
for jumping innovation,
somebody’s sister
hand springing through
with the style of a piano player,
cigarette at an angle,
hat at an angle,
shirt sleeves halfway up.

———————————–

Meta-Balls

You watched me
sitting up every night
with tape and Styrofoam balls.
It was six or seven meta-balls
I woke you up with,
at 4:30 a. m., for example,
knowing it was right
because you loved me.

And you were so shrewd,
watching me, listening
to me, and little by little
teaching me to stand
still without rocking,
to swing my arms
naturally, to pitch
my voice lower,
to enunciate.

———————————–

The Bit

The fabric of their woven paths
was gone,
and here was a son
who could’ve used a father,
but the last flare of effort
hadn’t bounded forth
on the darkening grass
when knee hinged open
and hand scooped up the bit
everyone had fondled
to their everlasting regret
before the hard regard
of those who had known them,
snug in the pocket
of their well-tamped pity
and easy humor.

———————————–

Writing Behavior

I hope I have a heart attack
and drop dead right now.
I’ll just sit here by this window
throwing in some average light
and watch my pencil-ridden hand
wriggling across the page
in the rhythms of handwriting.
I hope this is so bad
I never have to read it again,
or, if I do, that I don’t
make many drafts of it,
finally reducing it to a folded note
I’ll flatten out when I get home
and add it to the pile awaiting
even more of my refined attention.
I wish I didn’t have time for this,
though I have a killing schedule.
I hope I have some more wild hairs
so I can spend even more
of myself in writing behavior.
I wish alchemy would go away.
I wish I wasn’t planning to surprise
my woman with this in about
two hours lying in a white bed
like a red beet after a hot bath
on the brink of my hoped-for death.

———————————–

A Bare Back in a Leafy Context

We haven’t the blind distaste
we might have.
Whether the thin regard
we’re treated to will melt
or slice ahead nicely,
whether to slog down the center
or something about a bare back
in a leafy context,
I am one with my target
on the page: glee,
a rasher of brown skin,
a ruffled sheet
in the brunchy sun.

———————————–

(Headless)

in the moonlight
last night,
I wish I’d taken
your breasts
with me today
and set them
on the seat
beside me
(looking at me),
and, at a low
point, maybe
I’d pick one
up and put it
between my legs
and under my
hand as I drive.

———————————–

A Deserted Blue Kitchen

There’s a bored ecstasy here,
like paint peeling
in a deserted blue kitchen.
The soft pressures of yours on mine
demand some kind of a change,
a shift, and a reaching out.

Returning home a few hours later,
unlock the door, enter the house,
and drop to the floor
on a horizontal spine.
You’re in here somewhere,
breathlessly in the nude.

O.K., if that’s what
it is, it’ll just have to
take care of itself.
Still, whoever let
you in didn’t know
the secret of fine things,
or the demarcations
upon which they depend.

———————————–

Wear

There is no way
to halt the life process.
There is wear.
There is wear,
and you can’t change the oil.
You end up watching
the life process
work on your bones,
and what’s in between
is gravy.

It might even congeal
into happiness,
but just until the solipsism
of wear takes over again,
which is why I need
no wear in my gravy,
and why language
should be used by lovers
for amusement only.

———————————–

Nothing Tinglier

The hope of tra la la,
the suds beyond the sanctified,
the rhyming, rhythmic line
describing the blatant and pungent
of your bodily parts it was yesterday’s
burden to crush against tearfully,
and even to accompany
with free-falling nouns
and verb endings:
than this, nothing tinglier.

If the numb base of thought
glories in its monumental slavery,
what of the sugar agonies
of a little boy in school?

If I’m the perpetrator of a proud
and convincing style, it isn’t anything
that starts anywhere, or is shaped;
rather it is the case
that dikes have been removed,
natural energies preserved,
the hereditary endowment
of a panicky need,
the cunning of a child.

Somewhere in here, all waxy
and biologically coordinated,
find passage and home,
questions and vicissitudes
put aside like pick and shovels
at the end of the day.
Liquid possibility lies down
with warm consensus:
every part unclenches and flows.
A clod jumps off the river bank,
the whole bank goes.

———————————–

The Dumb Have the Advantage

If you were mine,
I could do such wonderful things.
Oh, the stupid idea
of being a human being
and having to do all
that sucking to stay alive—
and then he learns to talk!
Howl into the fierce grizzly innards
of interpersonal relations.
The dumb have the advantage.
Nothing but silence won’t hurt.
I wished, oh how it could have been,
stepping into a gentle night
when even leaving was a sociable act
with the band playing in the background.
I can’t tell you how happy I am
in a land of tapping fingers
and dancing feet,
oh, you yokum,
I’d so love to strum.

———————————–

Something Portentous

squeak, squeak, squeak
Here comes something portentous
with a cuckoo in the background,
a little hoot of a thing
blaring like a traffic jam.
When one becomes the thing
it is impossible not to,
whole registers of sense
open up like a music wall,
every blink linked,
easy and refined as a cartoon,
the numbing superb sense
of owning everything
including whatever
we’re throwing away today.

———————————–

Ba Boom

Why wouldn’t you
shake yourself,
flutter your feathers,
dust up a new world,
colorful as plumage,
beating like an African band?
This isn’t advanced ideas,
this is the stuff beyond
what’s worth talking of,
but I see I’ve got to go
pretty soon, and ba boom,
a little ba boom, isn’t
the worst sound ever heard,
so if pulling and shaking off
the big tenderloin didn’t
happen this afternoon,
I want you to know
there were distractions.

———————————–

A Dog of a Writer

It’s not pretty,
only pretty as ugly is,
no gentlemanly cadences
of an early morning walk,
but a dog of a writer
on his hands and knees,
jaw locked on, tugging,
stripping the poem off
the bloody side of language.
Not that I don’t like you,
I don’t, but some of what
this world offers is so
ta-ta-ta-ta that its driving
unsurpassed banality robs
me of words and actions
as bang bang bang you
propel yourselves ahead.
If the birds and insects
could hear the beat,
the poor world would
bang itself to death.

———————————–

A Boat on an Ocean

A boat on an ocean,
something a Japanese might like.
It could build.
Serenity with complementary peril.
Because you long for me,
I’ll never sell you short.
Tomorrow will be a happy day.
What a sendoff we’ll give it!
I know it’s easy to think
this is just a small part
of a dolorous story,
but to think so is
a dog-brained mistake.
Take hold, lover.
Do whatever comes to you.
It will be clear and bright.
Little, if anything,
will ever break up
this happy time.

———————————–

This Street Corner Considered as a Shape

This street corner, considered as a shape,
atop this hill we’re coming up to, won’t change.

I’m damned if this fruit with a green sign post stuck in it
will be here when I’m gone (or close my eyes).

I have the urge to come out some day
to check on this nondescript,

which surely will stop without me,
though not my kids or dog, who’s also along.

I should rattle that sign, demanding,
“By what right, what does it bloody mean?”

of the sunshine and leaves, which could only conceive,
It’s a good question; we’d like to know, too.

———————————–

Rubber Arm

Always, a little more coffee,
a little more cereal,
a little, and a little more, milk.
Always more and more car
into less and less space,
and despite coffee stains
and broken tail lights,
there’s no lasting effect
from this habit of mind.

And though there are times
when all the grass is high grass,
and a magic word
will bring the mountain down,
my limbs are still green;
my arm, rubber.

But a lot of times, I also think:
this is hungry, really lacking,
this looks like a copy
of something, or a formula,
and there isn’t anywhere
enough daring, or imagination,
or kids staying at breakfast
on a hot summer morning
before going off to do
whatever they have to
with the rest of their lives.

———————————–

My Sons

I’d rather be oil on the waters.
I’d prefer to be my sons.
They are the best
and hardest workers I know.
The keen delight is mine.
May their raids depart
from warm kitchens
after good breakfasts,
and may they never know
the cold with no money,
or those unwilling to serve them.
May they never know restraints,
or believing they are Indians.

———————————–

Looking at Fred’s Paintings

Those hard who haven’t
the whole toward, truly,
the outré sound of voices
clamoring down empty corridors,
strangely authoritative.

I might as well ride along
in the shopping cart
of the mystery story,
my own talk
they’re paying for,
satisfied so far.

So slam we out those
eloquence oblongs
from a sudden knows all,
ravenously, by way
of first principles,
until it hangs, with lists.

———————————–

Kind of Blue

Whatever you are, despite what you are,
fitted to me on Kind of Blue, however
it comes around this time, I have no idea,
because it isn’t easy not to love.
It’ll continue until the kinks give way
to those we relax as we have to learn
how to though I never wanted to walk
down a long of groove of confusion
with the smell of gunpowder behind me
into this silence at the end of the record

———————————–

Kimchi

Could Korean cuisine
be a less likely scene for
revelations about lawsuits
soon to be won
presented like bon mots
to a red-blazered first date?
I wrote my daughter
I’d found a brown truck
and a brown girl,
and I hoped
they both worked out.
(The truck is less trouble.)
You were a good deal,
but I never expected
to love you this much.
Now, despite what
was said over kimchi,
the lawsuit’s in limbo,
but you always make
me feel like a winner.

———————————–

Rock Chalk, Jayhawk, KU!

Not that I haven’t,
in the company of lesser ladies—
in kitchens, in bars,
and riding around in cars—
abused beer,
but that I trusted,
did it with you, a stone
in the other lawn chair,
because I was in a too-big
baseball jacket, sitting by
Floyd Temple, the KU coach,
becoming a bench jockey, really,
one of a number crabbed
on the bench, acting out
a paradigm of man,
the elements, and time:
yes, finding myself
on the porch with you,
drinking beer.

———————————–

 

A Woman on Her Knees

 Above a lot, even
beyond those points
where nothing happens,
we give you these greetings,
which are to be expected
from those like us,
there are so many.
Every one of us
comes from some
place weirdly special,
and never left.
A woman on her knees
beating the floor isn’t
too much to expect.
If the sap runs into
your face like an
enflamed candle wick,
that’s who you are:
measurements should
be taken from there.

———————————–

 

Beauty
When some so sad
had all the glad Dad had,
I don’t know how
anything could not
have happened,
how the stone could
not have been thrown.
How do I know
what a thrown stone
goes through, or when
the dugs will be
bitten off so beauty
can imbue and imbue
the locked-up cat fight
we two knew?

———————————–

I’m Blue

I’m blue,
but I don’t know
who I’m blue for.
If it’s a woman,
I don’t know which one.
Maybe the next one.
Fair warning is all
that can be asked,
time to secure what
can be secured,
the spine rolled up,
a tilted hip, a step
or two going nowhere,
secure as you are in
the middle of the bed,
your arms around
your own neck.

———————————–

Terry

The beauty of chasing someone
hundreds of miles on a desert highway
escapes me, even without the car crash.

That bastard really was about
to lose his life to a baseball bat,
but who can see the beauty in that?

There are times, though,
when the shadows fall together
like clenched paper dolls,
and all words mean one clean act.

———————————–

The Trace

On the bridge,
I raise my arms
in triumph
and salute upriver
like a held-aloft cup,
wondering what
those in the cars
are thinking,
then, leaving
3 West, into
the cloverleaf
on the trace
torn by the run.

———————————–

The Blind Luck

That you haven’t had
the blind luck
to have roamed
and gone over to
what must have been
a pre-existing niche
in your own mind
isn’t half bad.

Jumping around
beautifully might
have seemed better
but bitter accretions
do accrue.

Just when we wish
for things to endure,
they start getting
external, yet only
what’s let out and
left to cool is all
that’s ever ours.

———————————–

Your Place as a Stud

If you are empty,
the shiny brilliance
bouncing off your emptiness
may be escaping you.
Slide between the uprights
of things and assume
your place as a stud,
there are never too many.
These are not the knits
where runnels run somewhere;
these are those who
are human merely,
and frankly present
themselves that way,
and have to be dealt
with as such.

Village Idiots

Forgive us
for being village idiots,
we who would bring
what is alive to a still point
where it can no longer
go on living mindlessly.

We cling to clarity
like a carved god,
but clarity is air,
so we come to poetry
out of desperation, surely.

That part of life which
hasn’t must throw up
that which has
with a sure touch.

The only thing is just
to watch as the long breath
of something perfect unfolds.

———————————–

The First True Thing Said Yet

If a man talks in a maze,
he’s a showman
or a perfectionist,
there may be a difference,
but please continue your
straight-ahead oblique questions.
And you’re wrong!
That doesn’t mean nothing.
That’s the first true thing said yet,
and the resultant pressure
to smile is a feeling not felt
in a long time but glowing
on my mouth now like
some kind of a first kiss.

———————————–

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