from “Behind the Candelabra”
Every day he swings
his brief case at his phantoms. No room
for change in his glittering ears.
No smoke to remove
to clarify the oh! I can see I’m quite typical now!
Oh my god I look like my father in drag!
His face bandaged from the nose job twang,
his cheekbones to be: so rich, squared
exquisite! My piano tramp
in all his robed boldness
declares this is my finger this is my hand!
this is my thigh this is my hip!
and this is why I love you,
my Liberace in rings, tail of peacock,
just what are you thinking now,
skin of goldened tortilla.
The world calls the pine tree out –
it is not supposed to be a pine tree.
Then what am I supposed to be?
What of this carrying the weight of snow
on my forehead in winter?
The world doesn’t know what to make
of the pine tree, even though
a crow hides in the pine just as it would
in a poem. Thus, on the outside
things look markedly normal.
I know the opportunity for the pine
to mean something else presents itself
in this opportunity. A child doesn’t know
what to make of the body he or she is in.
I close my eyes: the moon in China
four thousand years ago, what was it doing there?
Did somebody look up and whisper
Wait, Not yet, You’re doing it all wrong.
When I was One of Them
Wasn’t until they were in public
the woman’s scarf showed itself to be flammable.
It was quite the sight to see.
Back in her own studio, one window,
no door, which she snuck in and out of for drinks,
all things evilizing, never a thing worth
mentioning, the world coming to its close,
and she, a painter surrounded in work,
using men for her still-lifes, snuck
them in the window, took them to the back
there to say: hold this walrus, sycamore, peach,
lower your genitals down in front of those cans.
A four-inch bust of Dmitri Shostakovich
with a broken neck and glasses chipped.
Inside the painting his head rests on a cream
‑colored rug, his mouth open to a small finch.
The birds eat seeds spilt from his face, then
fly back into blurred trees like a secret gift.
A river leaks towards his ear, the trees
will not look at him, the water just an inch
away. The birches are angular, skinny, depressed
and drooped into a smear of gray for Shostakovich.
Dmitri begins a tear, the birds bathe
in it. Above a field the orange moon splits.
A moment before rain, and the neck of the bust
forming into a nest, and the vined flowers into lips.
Jeffrey Allen is currently studying poetry in the MFA program at George Mason University. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Comparative Literature at the University of Cincinnati. As an undergraduate Jeffrey was awarded first place for the Academy of American Poets Prize. He has poems published in Recap Magazine, Short Vine Literary Journal, among others.