The author of Negrophobia has run off
with my Marxist roommate, but it's fine.
I have a drawer full of money,
crumpled like pleasant grasshoppers.
Strangers give it to me all night long
for delivering duck and describing wine
I have tasted only once. My feet hurt
& this apartment overlooks odd prospects.
Matzoh dust adorns the air, emitting
from a small factory you can stick your
face partway into through a grate.
Hasidic boys don’t flirt back. Shiksaphobia.
Sometimes after 2 o'clock,
walking home from the restaurant,
heroin dealers murmur Deathtrap
to me and I say no no nope
but accidentally bought crack
once from the candy store.
They wouldn’t take it back.
There was a time when love or idiocy or economy
felt like a form of improvisation,
a dance led by nature, eyes closed,
like submission to a mad maestro.
It's after the end of the world,
said Sun Ra, but mine was just starting up.
The essence of nature is process, said John Farris,
who memorized the I Ching in the clink.
Here he comes now, limping slow,
pointing his cane, interpreting the signs,
satire & elegy fluttering up from his coat.
Soon you will teach him to ride a bike
& his friend will throw your cat out the window.
Do these anarchists think
history is moving forward?
With them time stands still.
Some languages have no tense for the future.
Sparrows and pigeons will crash into my fire escape.
Peregrines will circle the towers
& there will be a miniature hummingbird
orbiting rare peonies in Central Park
so small and still you will peer across
at the stoned soul you came here with
and wonder if it’s real. Later that night,
buy a ticket & the maestro will raise his baton,
magnetizing an orchestra of improvisers,
dubbing it conduction when despite notation
he sets them free.
Could I synchronize with anything
seize liberty so suddenly
many doors open to the primus?
Maybe being that young was history’s idea
and those dirty twenties and twisted fifties
were my nature cracked in fragments,
concealing itself like that bird.
Jenny (Seymore) Montgomery has appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as Barrow Street, Tar River, CALYX, Unsplendid, the New York Times, and the Cairo Times. Her poetry installations have been shown at galleries in Montana and Washington. She resides in Missoula, Montana where she owns a distillery with her husband. Her poem, “The Privative Alpha,” was a finalist for the 2017 Kay Murphy Prize for Poetry, judged by Myung Mi Kim. Her poem “Proofed” was runner-up for the 2017 Brittany Noakes Award judged by Sandra Beasley.