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Five Poems from Atmosphere
by J. Reuben Appelman

from Atmosphere


I wish you were lonely. You would call me if you were
lonely. You would ride me into the sea, a yellow bird
on a whale. Eventually I would eat you, but I
wouldn't know that yet. I wouldn't be able to say one
thing is food. I wouldn't know what you are when
there is nothing but sea, and distance. And chlorine
and pharmaceuticals. And distance. (This is a
physical lightness beginning as not. You hug your
bears. You hear bombs going off.)

Culled: My right and left arms are settlements. When
you lay your head on my chest you are treading in sea
salt. I have tried to tell my children this but they
are hanging from the trees. They are urinating. This
is an instant cocksucker all over me, repeat. Come
in, Supernova, Come in. (At public bars, a violet
hour when the eyes have sunk.)


There's a whore in Dallas I saw on Montel. She's
beautiful. And you haven't been out of the house.
She'll have a baby with anyone. We should visit her.
(Here is my social security number: Psych. Don't
touch me.)

Culled: At dark hours on the beach, we burned our
songs to stay alive. This was beginning. When ships
would pass, we closed our eyes and hummed against our
teeth. This was sexuality, and eventually accounting.
There was a moaning from the sea. It was brought to
us each evening and lassoed back out again. (This
after I drew her face on an orange, and cut it in


Somebody threw a key party, and everyone went home
with a tumor and a vehicle. (He told me, go into the
universe and make loneliness, Son, make more

Culled: You are over 90 days, a closing date will
appear. This as a statement of your account. Go into
the universe and make gabardine, Son, make more
gabardine. ( Approximately 84% of his revenue was from
longing. In the company's view, well-positioned for


I am an 800 pound gorilla, and you are roller blades.
Your whole face is a diaphragm, and because of this we
have sex. Sometimes I bring you coffee, but you are
spreading your ass and won't drink it. The telephone
rings constantly, and it's a village. People are
throwing spears at our house. You are pinching your
nipples. You are on television, and this is what the
villagers say: Your whole face is a diaphragm, and
because of this you have sex. (If you haven't been
listening, every time somebody uses ketchup I get a

Culled: We would flood as rivers flood. We would
know ourselves as something other, but would not be
able to recognize this.


That I have become scalloped is of low-tide concern.
We understand one another, or there's a God that
understands the gorgeous clouds before men. We are
suspended from the clouds as men. We live and bounce
among the sea-birds, yet fear the sea. Come, ship,
flaunt me away as necessary as body. Mine is a hard
one now, and built to furnish souls. Make use of me.
Before crowds of men or Brooklyn, kiss me on the lips
in Detroit. (Light-winged smoke, Icarian Bird, melt
thy pinions upward as ash from my cigarette into

Culled: In a decade we will be stuccoed over.
Somebody will get a job and somebody won't. There
will be tiling to consider. This will be called Space
and Time, and that anything happened will be history.

About the author:
Other than teaching (what I do now), my last job was as a taxi driver. I have an MFA and have received grants and accolades from the Idaho Commission on the Arts, Project Greenlight, and the Oprah Winfrey show. But what I'd like you to focus on is the taxi driving.

© 2011 Word Riot

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