by David Koehn

Published in Issue No. 271 ~ December, 2019



We as kilim or Greek key. We as fiber or as knot or weave. As round or square or other.

Discomfort has more intelligent things to say on the subject: we as damask or circle link.

If I had a compass, I would get lost. If I followed you to bed, I would already be there.

The plucked string of tinnitus rings in D-flat. The chameleon tongue within the cochlea.

Blink and the scene changes. The price my friends paid for sobriety

Came at no discount, emergency sirens. We laugh. We talk about almost dying

While stumbling onto Hwy 101 at 1 a.m. thinking we could easily get to The Harbor

Where the next drink waited. When the car struck

I shit and puked at the same time but otherwise, I felt pretty good and headed on my way.

In “Dry Heat” by Cheekface “Its laundry day anyway,” Bay in yesterday’s shorts and t-shirt.
Today at the slough, Bay described what the minotaur looks like. Nose ring, tinged with rust.

Wolfman arms. Goat legs. Bull horns, face, and nose…with a hammer, the handle a red leather

With a series of silver rings presumably to better keep grip. If the function of narrative

Is but a psychological underpinning required to define the self, then this compulsion.

And if the eye can only see as the mind instructs — I am aware that while staring

Right at you I will sometimes not see or hear you but be walking through a Nez Perce

War Dance ceremony occurring circa 1900 — in fact, there is a picture of me there —

I am center of the frame, foreground, hands in my pockets walking with head down to the left.

Pivot, head fake, shoot it. No sign of the muskrat, until the swath at edge clawed with mud

Reveals where the grass ends through the steep edge to the water. The dog pushes the red ball

Underneath the couch where it cannot be reached. Barks incessantly for a return.

The mind attends to the talk track even while the eyes try and follow the line. Pain in the body

Has taken up residence and does not pay rent. Hope requires an oil change:

As if every line was peeled off the top of the prior. The perspective here pari passu.

If not given a job to do, the narcissist will indulge in self-diagnosis and impale the body on your ache.

Insert as many misspellings as make sense. Don’t forget homonyms count.

Note on composition: why does the reader, or more specifically the editor, need politic

Inserted here — why the ask for the acceptable humanism — when we know, we all know

Even the end of the world will not endure. My mother sang me to sleep.

I sang my children to sleep, two songs all my children know, “Three Little Birds”

And “Redemption Song.” Just because it is destructive

Does not mean it is not beautiful. Perhaps because it is destructive it is beautiful.
The dead sing in some bones

And not in others. Today I drove to San Jose to visit a catfish.

The empty space between the lines empties the space between the lines lining the space.

When out of olive oil, sear a piece of bacon In a cast iron skillet. Heat on high

Until fat renders the air with muskiness.

This is how alcoholism works.

The grass seed from last year has taken hold. Knee-deep fescue.


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David Koehn's first full-length manuscript, Twine, now available from Bauhan Publishing, won the 2013 May Sarton Poetry Prize. David just released Compendium (Omnidawn Publishing 2017), a collection of Donald Justice's take on prosody. David's second full-length collection, Scatterplot, is out from Omnidawn Publishing in 2020.