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Dead Poets

Author Biography
Poetry By
  Justin Taylor

Published on: 9/26/2005

For S.T., N.L., & J.B.

Out past the shell-pocked sun-washed sand, the South
Florida beach slopes gently as a pelvis toward the sea.
The coastline is spiked like an earnings report: every hotel
a balls-to-the-wall explosion of cement and polarized glass.
Tourists unfolding their lurid beach blankets affect concern
about the opinions of experts who can all at least agree

that one day this whole peninsula will tumble
(or will it slide?) into the wide hingeless mouth
of blue-green crystal that harbors sleek shadows
that race by swimmers who, drunk on the clarity
of a cloudless sky and their own youth and beauty,
have gone for a haphazard skinny dip.

Sunbeams finger the swells like a new type of instrument.
Gulls dive-bomb trash cans like there's a war on,
taking their best shots at the ripe garbage;
spreading the wide, thin diamonds of their wingspans
they catch the sudden gust of cool air which also reminds
the sunbathers of the changing hour, the parking meter.

The girls' shoreward dogpaddling is strained by a quiet
ancillary fear in the name of their nudity, as if a shark
attack now would be worse for that the unblinking
creature might glimpse dark anemones of pubic hair
or a pale breast's upturned nipple,
and ogle unnecessarily before sinking teeth into bone.

They leave the water with cautious abandon
and hope to go unnoticed as they struggle
back into those other illusions of security:
first their damp underwear and then their cars.

Published on: 4/11/2005
If you weren't now with man...

If you weren't now with man, him,
as one says in passing conversation,
then I would love you again, or rather
make love to you - yes, this thing
is what I mean to say. And I say it

with some irony, this talk of love,
either being or making - having, even -
because when we had what we had
I didn't care as much for it, for you.
Don't think me cruel, though I can be.

Those who know me will think they know
to whom I pen these obviously allusive lines
but even my small world has a posse of pasts

and so if I should deign to ode
for a less likely ghost,
let all recall that hearts, like minds, fold back
on themselves and, as often, into one another.

(Perhaps I am not known by some
so well as they might think.)

At any rate, don't hesitate to call
if him what beds you now should stumble
and you decide to let him fall, preferring
to ensure that some body
      will be there, to catch yours.

Published on: 1/6/2005
I was lying when I said I didn't love you

What a muddled and shiny night (as if Virginia
Woolf had written it as a favor), and so cold!

I mentioned how I like the cold best,
you answered me but I missed it.

It didn't matter, you said, and kept riding.
I guess we both had red cheeks.

My head was haloed by whiskies and the moon.

You wanted to borrow a movie with a cute male lead,
just a clean face to crush on while you waited for sleep.

(You didn't say that, but I know you.)
I told you to pick one and you scanned the titles

while I was pretty intent about some dust on a sill,
or else I was thinking about the carpet's many stains.

It was about cleaning, I can say that for certain.
We talked about films, their relative merits.

I decided not to mention something I'd remembered.

Published on: 11/23/2004
Literary Conceit

Let's say the moon makes a decision.
- Dennis Cooper

Grant me a street confettied in glass shards
every color of the beer cooler.
Assume the second-rate halo of a cigarette's smoke
and the bargain-basement thrill of occasional street lamps.
Obviously, it is late, or else lately turned early.

The sky isn't worth mentioning,
but some people would.

Give me myself tight-roping
the broken line that divides the road
into his and hers single-lane directions.

There is nobody else with me
but I am thinking of someone who is gone.
Figure my expression makes that much clear.

All right. Now, finally, the scene is set
and we are ready, like experts, to makes poems.

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