The Famous Novels

A long walk can bring on old memories. The Western kings were corrupt
and rightfully murdered by the people. A woman disappears in Greece.
A child suffers trauma before, eventually, dying in a gruesome murder.
A man tries to take over the world but fails, and later dies. On account of sexuality
and gender performance, the brothers begin to drift apart. The cuckold
and the minor artist walk about the city, crossing paths. A group of bros
track down the famous capitalist but then they all just chill. The Native American
overcomes his drinking problem only to discover other problems. Race
is a mutable thing. Not even a magic ring can solve racial tension. The Great War
was hard on folks. Three men and a woman travel to Mexico and are vaguely surrounded
by murder. Ah….memory. The butler re-examines his life, the deleterious effects
of Imperialism. Corpse fuckers are just like you and me, in the end. The American dream
is not for everyone: in the wrong hands, it can even be dangerous and end in murder.
Old farts are still capable of love. The failed poets get in all sorts of trouble.

Reading Notes

The sea is going away. No one expected to find it here,

but there it is, the American flag, and we marvel at its presence.

In contrast to the European models. Everything sounds

like a citation, small scenes and glimpses. A time-stillness,

a smattering of facts, the piano speaks: “What does anything mean?”

You appear serious because you are a complex person,

and I respect that. I respect Europe. I respect even America.

[Here comes that old sea again…]

Acceleration Exercise

The body is strange in darkness. My body. In darkness my body performs.
In hospitals and apiaries. I prefer the hospitals, save for the nurses. I prefer
the bees but they can’t come inside. We arrive at an impasse, the nurses,

the bees, and my delicate body. There is also a surgeon, often forgotten.
There is a father who never performs, he is annoying, I stitched his mouth shut.
With my wings I miss him. Cries—they mark the days from other days, all sewn

into my body’s thread. I cut tulips. I cut poppies. The daughter’s jail was my jail,
the warden made out of bees. I cut the bees for their wings. I ate poppies
and felt like a white person. I was surrounded by nurses, who were compelled

to perform. They performed babies. They perfumed cities. Despite all odds,
the poppies existed. Something happened when I was twenty, I’m almost positive.

Reading Notes

First opaque, then blindingly simple. The proof before the thesis

[defacing the public copy] but still the turn to thesis. Pictures of Nixon

blowing a bugle. A sardonic anger and an obsession with the holocaust.

Be niceor leave. Re-focus on the sound, the repetition of the maudlin

[repetition so unlike that of Taggart], a childhood thrill in being bad.

A ring of threes. All babies are pure. Or, all pure things are babies.

This is where the bees come from. The nurses repeat repeat repeat.

Acceleration Exercise

The old walls upset me. Like many men, I have stayed up all night;
like literally every man, I have experienced moral dilemmas, confounding
like the world. Men have cut off their own hands [Have you read Macbeth?],
like the world they have died without hands, everyone standing around.
And this upsets me. The so great legacy of Charles Darwin. I watched a spider

and it reminded me of other natures. Deer. Trees. Clocks, which are neither
natural nor unnatural, or they are, but they measure the natural [time],
but it feels unnatural when it changes, and it changes a lot, like weather. Weather
is not an object, it is a force acting on a set of objects, which changes them.

Time is not an object or a force, it is a condition of change. Here in Boston,
we are sad about weather and time. The old men and their walls were good
for us. White spiders, white men, white walls of weather, forcing change.
But objects are not mutable, it is our ideas of objects that change and they do so
without our consent, and often, we are sad. Only the actual gold is gold.

Michael Martin Shea lives in Oxford, Mississippi. His poems have appeared in Colorado Review, Indiana Review, jubilat, Pleiades, and Best New Poets 2012. He coordinates the Trobar Ric Reading Series and edits Yalobusha Review.