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C S Cizek May 2015
From across the hall, I watched her double
over Coleridge, sympathizing as she looked
up to the thin curtain filtering the street-light
universe past the pane held in hot glue.
The click-heels, car barks, ceaseless L-Train
turnstiles, tipsy choirs in cracked-door taverns,
hinges, keys on carabiners, bus hydraulics,
the wall clock, and her fingers caressing the page.
She loved a soft wind carrying birdsong
through screen doors and dowel chimes.
She used to leave her shoes lace-tangled
by the key rack until she saw glass pollen
sparkling in a caged tulip blossom.
She raised the book and sullenly whispered
the last stanza of Frost at Midnight
into the spine, wondering how anyone
could live away from impressionist-dandelion
forests, children's plastic toys in the front yard,
and church bells at every hour.

I wondered the same thing.
This poem will be relevant to my girlfriend and I's situation in a few years.
C S Cizek May 2015
For Tom Surdam

Town's quiet—
aside from the timid
waltz of a porch-swing
wind chime and the backyard cricket
kingdoms. I passed the funeral
apartments, the static cat,
and the bar stool where my uncle
wore his soul sore on steel strings
in a wooden shot glass.
He was a good man, a cigarette
saint with a pacemaker scab. A tavern
sweetheart with a memory made
of drink chips and Marlboro foil.

I saw an asphalt toad on the bridge
bathing in the ghost glint of the only
stop light in town beside another
that was smeared like house paint
just inches from the storm drain,
from home.
C S Cizek Apr 2015
She sat, back to the paint-drip
furnace and the little, drywall
mountain beneath the single-
pane sun. Though we were hunched
over a tablecloth of ink and Xerox
study guides, I knew we were there
with our legs swung over, dripping
parallel to the faults in the face
where it threatened to split itself
and leak sweet, Colombian dirt.
We could feel the push of fifty million
coffee grounds at our steamed-milk heels
and the edge crumbling off into teaspoons,
but we didn't move.

We watched the teal-crystal sky
boil over instead.
C S Cizek Apr 2015
I made notes of docking posts
pointing out to murky reflections
of tourists that didn’t have time
for a souvenir mug or a picture
with a black trumpeter content with his brass,
and nothing else, blowing life into the seagull
sky, making the clouds pop and drop spray-
mist jazz, which accompanied his trumpet
with a gentle washboard scrape.
He beat his heel to the thousand pin-drops
of passerby earrings, crab sweatpant draw-
strings, and trawl nets dissolving into the sea.
Baltimore filled the margins
of a travel notebook alongside
pencil sketches of the Aquarium,
Prufrockian split claws
wrapped in algae bandages,
that homeless man weakly thumbing
through a pocket bible, the 32
cents wearing sea salt jackets,
and my cold girlfriend pulling on patron
sweaters in an art museum closet.
But it’s all a gimmick.
It’s $22 crab cakes
and paint-splatter-printed
sweatshirts that say New York
or D.C. or Everything on a Disposable
Kodak Camera.

Tired of the idea, I threw the page
over the edge, hoping to drown
it in green, but I never heard it hit
the water. I braced myself on a life
ring rack, leaned over,
and watched it settle into a natural
barge of dead leaves and orange peels
while sea foam circled
it like a bed skirt that’s only
noticed for the few seconds spent stripping
down before going to sleep
just to wake up to rain on the Royal Sonesta,
kids racing down the hall, the obligatory
alarm clock,
and the black trumpeter’s groove
four floors down.
A poem originally titled "Guts," but, after some restructuring, became this. I dig it.
C S Cizek Apr 2015
I’m sitting on a fume couch with ashtray
legs, counting the khaki strands
in the beaded curtain that dices
the hallway up into barcodes. The table
by the fridge is a cable spool lead-
painted to match the molding. Around
it is a mesh-back lawn chair, a SoCal
fold-out from a SoHo dumpster,
a spill-trayless booster seat,
and a bottle cap barstool. Everyone’s
wearing second-hand sport coats
with seam stitches as loose as telephone
wires tacked up with undersized lapel

**** Capitalism. **** Disco.
Bathe Avant-Garde. Eat Paint.
Bleed *******. Smoke Local.
Espresso, Or Genocide.
Dresden Was A Lie.
Shrink-Wrap It All.

Everyone is clustered around the cinder-
block stand record player, grooving
to the pops, looking like a rag-tag tide
change beneath the broken-oar ceiling
fan. Everyone’s wearing ironic scarves
tight like corporate ties to keep their throats
from popping ten-cent parasols, loose tobacco,
and *******. Amid their rubber flower talk,
I can pick out San Pelicano, someone critiquing
Keats’ “Politics,” and a rant regarding some
guy downtown’s stab at post-contemporary
Pointillism in some gallery I’ve never heard of.

They’re flipping between topics like a Moleskine notebook
while I skim through a copy of the Onion,
teasing the edges with a lighter I found on the floor.
C S Cizek Apr 2015
I found the class fish wrapped in single-ply
tissue and pencil sharpener refuse,
her poinsettia-sunset scales picked clean,
gathered in a Styrofoam cup. Her coral
fins crumbled, leaving rough edges like split
chalk or hopscotch gravel. Her last ocean
was the cover of a Nat Geo from
1995. Easing my fingers
beneath the matchstick spine, I deftly walked
to my desk, and laid her on construction
paper. I casted her slivered ribcage
in glue before I poured the scales, hoping
she'd triumphantly flick some harmless fire
when she woke, but she just laid there, shining.
C S Cizek Mar 2015
Chet Baker, '88

I put The Lost Tapes
on while I shaved my face, inching
around two chin nicks turning
the lather into the remnants of a strawberry
shortcake paper plate soak-through.
I tapped my Chucks on the pink,
checkered floor to the cymbals.
Heel toe, heel toe strut,
stopping every few measures
to re-tuck my herringbone-detail
tie beneath my collar. I heard
his trumpet wail, and mimicked
it on the rusted shower rod like a cheap
snare, deep drumstick strikes patched
with meat tape. I carefully ran the flexed
blade beneath my cheekbone
like a piano-park saunter, trying not to step
on the drummer’s heels ‘cause he hits
it just right. And the brass birds
are just right. The bench creaks, the cinder
snaps, the twilit fountain dance, the pop-
skip needle, the slick floor, the jazz faucet,
and the shave
are all just right.
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