[…]


Erin O’Brien

Three Poems

Hippocampus



I went driving along lakeshore at dawn

   My brain’s seahorse a thumb with eyes

Roaming in two directions at once

   Clung prehensile to the wiper blade

A wedge of mute swans: descendants

   For every ex-lover sailed down in pale

Sequence through unfurling bolts of fog

   Red mouths hard, taunting bent-necked

At the head, sun frozen, windshield

   On defrost beaded with the aftermath

Of morning, I remember—not the lake

Be One with the Ocean, Not with the Boat

Or so I’ve been told. But we harbor
A kinship; this man’s vessel

With a girl’s name, built to bear
Deep swells & remain upright

Being stripped down & slapped
Back into shape, shipped out

For another go. In harsh weather
We tie her to the dock swooning

Under protest. She’s a working girl
Accustomed to sounds of power

Tools. Sanded down & raw
As outer winterback, a dark salon:

The gutted heartspace. Squid trace
Her ribs, lit pink & trailing ink

Beneath a bluish skin. She rocks
The sailors hard asleep at night

Until they waken for their piss
In her broken head. She floats

Unanchored, drifts un-flanked
& drives a certain wedge. Joints

Bolted, her bends are sure against
The water’s edge. She labors even

With her bonnet off, feathers
Of the dogvane breaking free.

Photographing Daffodils in Night Vision

There are ways to shirk the greyscale. When it is early spring & dark outside
Adjust the mode to a cold day in hell. See the gardens lacquered in blacklight
As fields of Lacanian flowers. Something to try. Post-up poolside. Replace
The baby oil with ink & deflate objects of desire in order of importance—
Flamingo, frog, floating koozie. Set melancholy adrift, de-chlorinate. Repeat.
Start an ashram. Forget everything you ever learned about how to fuck & make
Money by pretending you don’t have a body anymore. Trash all memory
Of substance via inner fire & embrace pain as absolutely essential. Reverse
The effect. Go out mid-winter when light is violent on the snow. White-balance
Lawn & expose the negative extra-long. Do not develop. There are other ways.




return to SHAMPOO 41