Issue 5 poetry Uncategorized

Of All Things that Pounce & Alter

In addition to That hum to go by (Mammoth books), Jeff Schiff is the author of Mixed Diction, Burro Heart, The Rats of Patzcuaro, The Homily of Infinitude, and Anywhere in this Country. Hundreds of his pieces have appeared in more than a hundred and thirty publications worldwide, including The Alembic, Bellingham Review, Cincinnati Review, Grand Street, Ohio Review, Poet & Critic, Tulane Review, Tampa Review, Louisville Review, Tendril, Pembroke Magazine, Carolina Review, Chicago Review, Hawaii Review, Southern Humanities Review, River City, Indiana Review, Willow Springs, and Southwest Review. He is currently serving as the interim dean of the school of graduate studies at Columbia College Chicago, where he has been on faculty since 1987.

Of All Things that Pounce & Alter

I could foresee the earthquake rubble the bulging
gas and water lines the crisscrossing dropout sluices
the brambly abandoned lots the ancient rickety funiculars
the torturous unceasing subidas the shard-topped walls
the frayed and dangling alley wires the Brown-backed
and White-banded Mockingbirds the arrogant Andean Flickers
the arrogant eighteen month bed bugs the triumphal
colonizing ants the insomniac gypsy neighbors the vindictive
street vendors vindictive panhandlers the fishmongers
incensed by globalization the climate change graffiti punks
the escalera and botillería punks the presumptuous pernicious
fortunetellers the tightcorner trolley swings the taxi corner
whips the remnant Nacistas the newly emboldened Fascistas
but never the neighbor’s sluggish mutt her instant lateday ferocity
renting my shirt to the bone raking bloodying my hip prostrating me
in a crazed impromptu worship I dared not refuse

Residencial, Navidad (Chile)

Something there is in a raft of straw
and gnarled tubers
that draws a spent man to pull over

in a too late to search elsewhere pueblito
Something in a codex of lice
the dueña calls bedsheets

Something in the Jenga of abandoned safety razors
seatless toilets
marooned shoes

adjoining rooms clogged with field hands
and runaways
desperation in the six kinds of ugly

you best sidestep as you piss stumble

down the hallway
after the schoperia closes
and cocks begin to reignite

their raison d’etre
Something about the last electron
sputtering from your bedside outlet

and sinks of used waters
Something about a full night’s stream of busses
hurtling up the road

of your drowsy brain
from Navidad to its immediate

hijo de la gran puta

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