Theodore Worozbyt


The Third Man Theme plays from the bottom of a wind-up stein. Josephus pours out my ears like wax. Tires spray streetwater over the curb. That’s the sentence I last wrote twenty-three years ago, right before the priest began to speak. Goodbye to every hidden lantern.

I mailed Viola the jewelry I reproduced from tumbled rose quartz. Only when I laid the stones over a white napkin did their pink shades bloom. I asked permission before I gathered specimens from the reticulated farm.

The rubber belts frayed, one by one. The red housing smelled burnt and then one morning I was informed it stopped in the garage, just in time. I lined the box with my man and dog picture from the newspaper and applied the Native American stamps. She hasn’t been able to answer. She’s fasting, too.

After the death I said no to the World Congress Center and was the chef of Alix’s. I had a dishwasher who sidelined as an impersonator. My sous-chef hated garlic, or chopping it. I drank canned Buds in the parking lot before work and served rotten sole meuniere to the owner’s party with a shrimp and salmon caviar garnish. He moon-walked in front of the Hobart, dressed each night as if for a state dinner, and finished all his shifts, believe me, spotless. What we call lemon sole in America is flounder. Eggs have no business in that dish.

My pit bull is sick, or sad. He leads a deeper emotional life than I do. I watched a yard-long snapping turtle begin to cross the street at dawn. He came far. I pitched an apple core to the red-winged blackbirds. I threatened the life of a stranger. His face was bleeding where he’d picked it. I will kill you, I said. I will pop your head on the sidewalk. If I am to live inside a wingless sepulcher of guilt, then why not spit blood at the images of ashes? He chews at grass, moving his mouth across the tenderer blades. It comes out black. I pull the last ones out of him—he watches me do this tenderly—with a leaf folded between my fingers.

A very famous poet wrote me out of the blue. He liked my lines, which are indeed. I love his. I remember love with a detachment bordering on the metaphorically musical, the piccolo birds, the zithering bees. Tee hee. The odor sweet and mimosal. The warble of it in the crepe myrtle.

I found my parents captured on polaroids and buried their flashlit stems in the leaf litter, those bulbs like burned brains, ice-blue. If you tell the time it means you’ve been made to learn to. Myself, I wound the Tissot too hard. I keep it in a tiny drawer these nearly forty years, but nothing is sequential. I wish once in a while I had the journal. I wrote about blood and epithelial slobber under the slide covers under the microscope. I remember only that it was hyperbolic. Those times ring-bound, pocket-sized, bound in faux black leather that smelled of pipe tobacco smoked importantly somewhere else.

If your piece is losing seconds then so what? The important thing is the instrumental radiance on your wrist. Father’s father. Mine dives deep with its firefly face turned down into the jewel-scoured sea. The rubber suit is warmer than skin. My words are silver bubbles. Little men inside them turn the polished pages. My crew scans the purpled surfaces under which I move, just in case the swelling burps.

The Cart

The paths here are curved, some the deer make and some we make with yellow ropes, and also there are paths that I have made only with my anagram, down to the three lakes closest to the powerline, where geese honking scatter and ride the water’s edge and all-year birds land on the timbers of the fences, scarlet, gold or brown. The gravel road climbs past a tiny swamp where wild turkeys drink and then ends where we cross the red clay flat, him always first and disappearing unworryingly up though the briars and the long grass grown between the woods where scrub pines have been cut to make the line. In the summer there will be blackberries and no matter how hot the day will be they are cool when you pick them in the dew sun and chew them delicately for the juice, swallowing their seeds.

Theodore Worozbyt's work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Otoliths, Antioch Review, Best American Poetry, Crazyhorse, The Iowa Review, The Mississippi Review 30 Year Anthology, New England Review, Po&sie, Poetry, Sentence, Shenandoah, The Southern Review, TriQuarterly Online and Quarterly West. His first book, The Dauber Wings (Dream Horse Press, 2006), won the American Poetry Journal Book Prize, and his second, Letters of Transit, won the 2007 Juniper Prize and was published by UMass Press.Scar Letters, a chapbook, is online at Beard of Bees Press. Objectless Fragments, a new chapbook, appears in the premier issue of The Chapbook.
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