James Maughn

Four Peripheries

Following Ales Steger’s Knives

Sharpened bone edges the rope.
An impossible routine for light to accomplish. Licked.

Which block accommodates the neighbors?
Slits to slide the knife in. Families and their family tools.

Tools and their familiar ring. One bell short a hammer.
Summer’s another. Seasons beget seasons.

A closet full of fuel economy.
Wherever’s a joint there’s space to sever and expand.

Knife-eyes peer out of those spaces, those slits.
They hold fast where you placed them last, even as you move.

Try to move them, they run up your sleeve, just under the skin.
Faces in the metal depend on the angle of the blade.

What to wear on the outside? Who wore out your library voice?
See, see, there are still more protrusions.

You’re unintentionally polyphonic. Families silent on the block.
Consult your anatomic dictionary.

Vacate equally through all available exits, gain a taste for
               prenatal meat.
It’s something to keep in your cavity.

Box yourself up and wait for two or three business days,
so when you transit it’s is not detritus but planet.

They are on their way. Did you hear? They’re on their way.
All the rest is common knowledge. And enough rope.

Following Miklavsz Komelj’s Little Sestina

is too
not there.
slips up

Is too-
not there.

Not there
is too
slipped up.

Slipped up’s
not there.
Is too.

slips up
not there
Is too.

Is too,
not there,

Who is too
not there. Earth
slips up, underneath.

Following Bei Dao’s Insomnia

Answer to the classic out-of-body experience
by examining the scaffolding.

Austere and not really effective,
strip the telescope if stars offend.
Death’s not like that,
the cartography of belief’s not drawn to scale.

Look elsewhere for sources.
The chase at last surrounds you
pale and eyes drawn.
Look for a gesture that says happily alone.

It’s all topsy turvy on the balustrade.
Baudelaire worries the garden,
the animal’s lost to the hour.
The smile in fact’s the first feature to go, tail last.

Following Mercedes Cebrian’s Dangers of Imprecise Reading

Not one yields less a reflection
a guitar tuned out of hearing
scufflaw impacts an accident
tree with a plot big enough to drive through
gets lost in the retelling

Water sluiced down the neck of the instrument
stopover in imperium
how water moves, or how we move water
marks a boundary
that feeds the spring that feeds the massive trunk.

                               floats a larger body
                               within the smaller one)

Welcome to my hometown country. To get back here
there’s no need to leave. Stay or go
simply a matter of surrendering the imperative.
Stars align in all manner of grammar.
Harder sounds.

Nothing’s getting taller
underneath that canopy.

-Guess all the empty stonework
and grassfed fodder, pulled
pork on a earthen bed,
has just about outlived its welcome.

James Maughn lives in Santa Cruz, CA, where he a poetry co-editor for the literary arts journal Ping Pong,published by the Henry Miller Memorial Library. He also coordinates A New Cadence Poetry Series out of the Felix Kulpa Gallery in Santa Cruz. His first book, Kata, was published by BlazeVOX Books in 2009. Work has appeared in Otoliths, Lungfull, Parthenon West Review, TinFish, Big Bell, Sentence, Moria, Poetry Salzburg Review, Dusie, MiPoesias, and Horse Less Review. He is a member of the Black Radish Collective, and his second book, Arakaki Permutations, will be published by Black Radish Books in 2010. Another book, These Peripheries, will be published by Ahadada Press.
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