Scott Abels

Three Poems from Locus: A Choose Your Own Adventure Series

Prefix, the first thing you notice
when you get to Veracruz is the weather.
Today, for love: hope.
Everything in its place, & if
the idea of being in love continues
to be such a cliche
& we do continue
to love the world, still & if
the local pronunciation is difficult
for us, this is chiefly because
we really believe it is still embarrassing.
These are the kind of lectures
honesty gets me. Prefix,
I’m afraid you won’t be proud,
& I have been quiet
about sleeping with certain women. I apologize
for the form. It is difficult
to get the news from a bottle.

Young Naked Lungs was like an asylum to me.
Exercise, drugs, quiet time, sleep.
The details, the outrage. New memories.
Prefix, as an adult,
having quit the choir,
I had forgotten
about the advantages
that enthusiasm has.
Whenever we are
so finely organized
& incapable
of acting casual even a little bit
without a single thought
within a forest of chimneys,

wait, & the scab will rip,
& we can leave like blood.

We can always come back with a tan
& remember, mostly
the exaggeration of the guide
sitting in the sun,
& when we come back
we will have the strength to ask
the Big Apologist, finally
about our past, whatever we want.
We all have the same key to the sacred.
The only difference
is an intolerance of silence.
Whisper through the stupid keyhole,
hyperbole, get thee behind me.

Naked Lungs was training me for the Big Apology
Competition. I gave a presentation
on hate. All of this
was to be held in a bedroom
where there are mirrors.

     If you are paying attention
     to the stimulus, then it
     was never stimulus.

     To control your voice
     & not be pretentious.

     We met in a perception.
     I was made to sit so still.


Prefix, in the daily papers,
three thousand thinkers have finally thought
their thoughts through.
Some sober sucker Republican Senators
went & bought up all the mirrors in Mexico
replacing them with calendars
muttering, now
there’s a lot less left to break.

Governments will come and go. Act accordingly.
There will always be women in bars with birthdays.
Your name will be pronounced differently
in each country, & you can always defer
to due humor, & ask anyone
was it for this
the idea of love in any direction
that is the masthead of all local language.
& all that time spent dividing
(how fast it seemed at first)
isn’t it all just genius & beats.
A quiver. A whisper. This confusion of kind
is never complete.

The confusion is kind of complete.
The senators
have already
gone & marred
our solitude.

& isn’t it a relief
you are not strong
in your broken places,
& this is not a contradiction
(that new taboo)
left unconfessed.
The smell of burning
hair lingers in the air.
The texture & its thinness.
The smoke & its presence.
Prefix, yellow-eyed, tomorrow
there will be pride lines to draw to
as always. If you want to find me, I am sorry.
We only (& why do we)
see confusion bloom
to see our little unease
for the seed it could be.


Prefix, we cannot last
stuck within
a heat we are
not used to.

This is my gift of tenderness: sweat.
There, in the winter,
it might take a hammer
to make a salad.
I honestly cannot concentrate
& I have seen the limits of my patience
with you up there
scenting yourself
after a bath
going to the store
for olives & ham
for some platter.
This has been suggested
as the ideal biological situation
toward which everything
is slowly evolving.
At the party: a party.
When I returned the dog to the neighbors,
they didn’t fucking care. I knocked
without knowing I had knocked.
We were all growing angry
& we resented the ocean.
You don’t always know when you’re having a heat stroke.

I should not think in English anymore.

La manzana                                      When the light lowers down
de mi ojo                                           on the day of the dead
fue el fuego.                                      you will become equals.

No one says that! But they will.

This waiting                                      Energy is never
out of the temperature                       victory
must not be thought of                      to those who spend
as a competition.                               our time in bed.

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