#34 [Two quartered radishes]

Wayne Koestenbaum

Two quartered radishes, consumed

              while dressing

              for death: diminutive



Caressed two words: felucca and bromeliad.

Confused between intended and indented:

              intended bride?

              indented bride?

Two weeks ago I trod a Notre Dame now burning.

Eviscerating windstorm. Hugged two more words:

              janissaries and solan.

So long, Janus-faced blueboy. Nice knowing your spirit

              lamp had no hold

              on my esophagus.

Topless man jogging past Gothic rowhouses dropped

              an “I want to erase

              you with my handsome

              aplomb” bomb.

Crackers at the ready and an uncooperative banana,

              its peel sluggish.

I ride the Internet sidesaddle; I stop to feed

              the craving-matrix its oats.

Before groin-mirage of metempsychosis arose,

              I entered the Book-

              mobile’s pharma-

              ceutical cavern.

Father confesses: “You have a good life—you didn’t

              make the mistake

              of having children.”

Imagine melon in the mouth of Omar Sharif Jr.,

              concocted crush. Lucky

or unlucky penny, poised on crack between urine-

              scented subway

              cement quadrants.

Assaulted by paper flyer (health store brochure) riding the air

              behind my neck as I

              descend to subway

              and imagine tactile pleasure

              of fingers landing

              on minor and major

              seconds in Persichetti

              sonatina tonight I’ll

              imitate to excavate

              what primordial clash?

Wayne Koestenbaum is the author of twenty-three books of poetry, criticism, and fiction, including Stubble Archipelago. Also a painter and musician, he has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, and a Whiting Award. He is a Distinguished Professor of English, French, and Comparative Literature at the CUNY Graduate Center.
Originally published:
March 6, 2024


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