Another Poem, This One Funny

So the poem I posted the other day was sad.  Here’s another one, also by Matthew Olzmann, used with his permission.  It originally appeared in Gulf Coast magazine, the literary journal published by the University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program.

I think this poem is hilarious.  🙂  I hope you enjoy it.  And I’m going to call it a transition into other things.

Happy Yule!

***

“The Skull of an Unidentified Dinosaur”    

does not belong to the dinosaur skeleton
to which it has been attached.
A man thought he made an amazing
discovery.  Now, it’s a towering mistake,
one for which he’ll likely lose his job,
but only after taking this skyscraper
of bones – with its eye-sockets
like windows to hell – apart.
Femur by mandible, I know what it means
to watch your good fortune change its mind.
Like that time in college, when my roommate’s
supermodel cousin invited us to a party
and accidentally kissed me in the dark.
She thought I was someone else – I have
no idea who – but the gist of the story
can be seen in her freaking out
when the light ruined everything.
For a moment, I thought I discovered
a new world.  And what a world it was –
with its beaches of untouched skin,
and its moon that smelled of a hundred orchids.
I named that land I-could-live-here-
forever Land and holy-shit-was-I-wrong Land.
Einstein says imagination is more important
than knowledge.  I imagine
the man who wired these dinosaur bones
must have imagined his vision was real,
must have pictured it alive.  Covered in flesh,
it was frightening – able to cleave you
open with a swipe of a claw
or devour you in seconds.
But as it is now, having never existed
after tricking you into believing,
it eats at you more slowly, lets you feel
every new rip in your gut, makes you beg:
What kind of animal is this?
I call it:  The Motherfuckerasaurus.
And, technically, that’s not the right name,
but neither is the word stamped here now –
in block letters, on a bronze plaque,
screwed to the floor.

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A Poem, A Lament

In the months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US, I remember people making the comment that in times of national tragedy it was natural to turn to the arts.  That in moments of unspeakable sadness and incomprehensible horror, sometimes rhetoric and punditry fall even shorter than usual in helping us to heal.

Yesterday morning, I cried after I dropped my son off at kindergarten, even though I teach at his school, even though our campus is far more secure than most.  I held it together until he kissed me goodbye and bounced, laughing, off with his friends.  And then I couldn’t hold it together any more.  My husband, who dropped our daughter off at the same school later in the morning, had the same experience.

Today was a little better.

I’ve been told that on The Voice, they made an incredible tribute to the Sandy Hook victims.  Everyone stood onstage together, each holding a sign bearing a single name, and sang Leonard Cohen’s heartbreakingly beautiful “Hallelujah.”  I love that song, and one day I might feel strong enough to look up the clip on YouTube, but today is not that day.

I’d like to offer you this little gift, reposted here with permission from the author.  This poem originally appeared in Cortland Review.

***

“The Man Who Looks Lost as He Stands in the Sympathy Card Section at Hallmark”

by Matthew Olzmann

 

The man who looks lost as he stands
in the sympathy card section at Hallmark
looks so sad with his bent umbrella
that you want to place a hand on his shoulder,
say, “It’ll be Okay.” But you don’t.
Because you also look like a crumbling statue
narrowed by rain, because you too have been abandoned
by language and what’s there to speak of or write
among so many words. There are not enough words
to say, Someone is gone and in their place
is a blue sound that only fits inside
an urn which you’ll drag to the mountains
or empty in an ocean with the hope
that the tide will deliver a message
that you never could.
 Because even those words
would end like a shipwreck at the bottom
of clear water. Someone would eventually look down,
notice the shattered hull, the mast
snapped in half, and believe those words
meant ruin, when they really meant,
starfish, iceberg, or scar tissue.
And even those words would fail. In this room
that smells like lemon candle wax and wild berry
potpourri, you pick up a card, set
it down again. Pick up a card, toss
it aside. In leaving, you take only an empty envelope.
Or you are an empty envelope. Or you’re the boat
searching for the glacier to gouge its side again.
You’re the door that opens to the sleet outside.
You’re the bell that bangs above the door as the door slams shut.