Monday, September 29, 2008

Dear editors,

Please accept the following poems as a submission to A Brilliant Record.
My books include two volumes of poetry, Shifting the Question
More Complicated (Otoliths, 2007) and Taste: Gastronomic Poems
(Blazevox, 2005) as well as a novel, Inverted Curvatures (Spuyten
Duyvil, 2005). Poems of mine have been published in Bath House,
Chain, Big Bridge, Bird Dog, Mudlark, Caffeine Destiny, and Spindrift
among others. My critical work can be found in Jacket, Logos, Clamor,
The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, The Electronic Book
Review, The Emergency Almanac, The Morning News, The Brooklyn Rail,
Media and Culture, In These Times, The Fulcrum Annual, Rain Taxi, and
Flak.

All and only my very best.
I look forward to hearing from you,

Francis Raven


A Thanksgiving Poem
for Carolyn

I consume derivatively tradition
because there is no other way to describe
how I feel about my family –
to believe I am a scientist
follows me across many turkeys:
strategic goals: to achieve self-maintenance,
a recipe that when made was piled
upon other mashed potatoes, contemptuously given
with charity for our vague lifestyle;
but remember our seared scallops
atop fried green tomatoes
laced with microgreens
and finished with a balsamic reduction sauce.
we have consumed a variety of stupid items,
but have learned, or keep learning,
what makes us more complete and noble
and for this we give thanks.

Thanksgiving 2005


A Message At The Front Desk

On answering machine: Probably in a little while, a guy will be in the store to pick up the keys, a tall African guy, skinny. He’ll probably be there in a little while to pick up the keys, then we’ll get a copy made, but I just wanted to let you know.

Yeah, now we know.

We’ll give him the keys when he answers the questions.

Answers them correctly.

How will he know? It’s not like they’re attached to him.

The state, as you might remember, has started privileging identity over beliefs. It’s, in reality, a way of taking care of the guy in the cooler: if we would have known that disliking the piece was within his personality.

Airplane Window

The small window
cuts a hole out of your heart,
metaphorically, of course,
and there you are,
a soft gingerbread cookie
that might have once
been a man.

But since you’re soft
your thoughts go everywhere
and you overflow the edges
of that nice clean shape
which I forged for you
out of the first ore we found
on a flight to San Francisco
(continuing on up to Seattle).

Aesthetic Fluttering

A victorious CD shuffle. Ambitiously anxious
to know what I will require later.
To take up another bird in the hand, fine text with which to rearrange feathers.
I’ve kept them in jars and have said, lied, that the water below is brewing,
but I can’t move on until I find a song that I haven’t heard,
can’t possibly have heard, a new song,
impossible to predict what will bring joy is so fickle in the eye.
Rules lay limp over the horizon, unseen,
extending strangely unpredictable, genius frustrated.
There is no ultimate set list, no concept, it falls back on the subject undecided.

The Prizes, The Natural Prizes

The horses were fires.
The fires were natural.
We knew they were coming.
Everything is natural to a child.
Nature and history are mixed.
The fires were natural.
Where we lived was historical.

The prizes were nice.
The prizes for jumping and speed were nice.
The prizes for dressage were nice.
The prizes for vaulting and reining were nice.
Their colors were nice.
I kept all the ribbons on a dresser:
The best at the top
In the middle;
The earliest on the left
And the latest on the right:
A pyramid of sorts
For sport, to know I was good;
For everyone to know I was good.

The canyons finally burned.
Someone else knew they would
Eventually. It was a part of nature
To be expected.
We lived on a canyon.
We evacuated the canyon that burned.
My parents took the valuables,
Whatever those were.
My prizes were not among those valuables.

It was all imaginable.
It had been rehearsed.
But I knew that the prizes,
The prizes from riding,
Were somehow irreplaceable.
For them, there was no substitute.
This was sad.
I knew I was sad.
Money could replace other things
But not the prizes.

Years later, I was in charge
Of running horse races
For little kids.
Well, part of running a horse race
Is buying large numbers
Of prize ribbons
Over the Internet.
I felt differently.
I no longer missed my prizes,
But felt sad about this,
Although it was not something
I chose.

Significant Form

From the twins of doubt and reason
Comes form, incestuously
Pouring over old snow
Like black melt
Confetti.
A rip has no sound
If it is wet:
A lesson for politics
Perhaps of art sticking out
To the meat
Of the matter,
Falls right off.
You don’t even have to
Gnaw the argument
From which
Stock will be made:
Sunday’s soup rings a bell:
Noodles over broth
Vegetables under;
Paired
Clenches significant form
In their teeth;
Silent walking towards
Carnivorously
The imagination flips
Pages
Until it wrestles a place
To start;
Rests finally in understanding,
Allowed to doubt there
In the meat
Gray
Overcooked.
It’s dry without the strokes;
The rough crackle of voice.
It is dry.