THREE POEMS by Matthew Gavin Frank

Parts of a Feather

The superstitious geometry of the rock dove rests
between its first and fifth rib. And you

rest between it. It’s easy
to call you a disease. Better: a heart or rain

or our dinner plates, last night draped in the leavings
of cherry.
Of course, you say, my hands

are the skeletons of everything with wings, hiding
art in their armpits.
You say, a feather stripped

of barbs is bone. I say, Don’t get me started
on Venice. Too many chicken frescoes laying

their ossuary, Stravinsky tied with a piano string.
He plucks a music like yolk. Good for you. Bad

for you. Bursting with fat. That was the honeymoon,
whole storms going on in there. Your mother

wouldn’t have put up with this. She was too big
a fan of Picasso:
an idea is never as interesting

as its ear. So, here we stand, naked as iron,
the puddle for the hail. A marriage license

makes a lousy umbrella and, even worse,
a wonderful canal. But still you convince me,

gravity is only weather, and electricity,
the closing of the beak. Let’s stand

outside in it, watch the planes revise Andromeda.
We’ll make it. I assure you. Tonight, you play

the worm. Strange how, to fly, the dead bird
needs the hurricane.



The Rabbit Prophet Aloysius once said
that no scalp can be taken twice. Each,
a pastrami sandwich, some awkward
Jewish deli that woke up surprised

to find itself in the Gulf, 61st Street
replaced by undiscovered bodies and a tower
of spilt oil. Is this too much?
Some mammalian litany collapsing

under the weight of double-meat? Of course
the rabbit is your mother’s and, of course
a suck-up, he chose her favorite sandwich.
It’s amazing what little cages will do to us

when we’re forced to argue politics with
our incisors, critique only one kind
of food. As if
entertain you it’s cold

outside was enough to fill us up like a gas tank, make us
laugh. Well, fuck you, Aloysius, you chew
like a pig. It’s easy to be a prophet
to rabbits. But even you know:

My Algonquian friend is the best kisser,
reserves her tongue for nothing
but my palate, my car that failed long
before the Mexican border, my stupid

coastal, time-struck
bunny heart.


Football Found in Handball Closet

No one knows how it got there—
a little deflated, it should have been
a large nurse’s shoe. Laces frown hypothermic,
the sewn mouth of some poor soul,
too deep into the savage corner,
in red camera love with the native winter

Janey suspects the government, says
it’s strange to find skin when expecting
rubber, like George Bush eating just now
a garden salad in Calcutta. Perhaps
we should have recycled less
and read our newspaper.

The light couples with our bedroom
window, nicknames our mattress,
Mississippi. The painted iris
dies on our wall, this twisted lecture
on dirt in Bhopal. Soon, you guess,
volatility will make its last global stand.

Here, we will have to cook
our dinner, heat the Peruvian
potatoes with a habañero pepper.
While we eat, one thing will try to burn
another thing down, become the enzyme
that digests all dinners.

The gas leak teaches
the hangers new tricks:
how to live without white sheets,
to uncollar the animal shirts, teach them
to cool to the medium size
of who we must become, year after
year, the broken locker heart
of some stupid white game.


Matthew Gavin Frank is the author of the food-and-wine memoir, BAROLO (University of Nebraska Press), the poetry manuscripts, SAGITTARIUS AGITPROP (Black Lawrence Press/Dzanc Books) and WARRANTY IN ZULU (Barrow Street Press), and the chapbooks “Four Hours to Mpumalanga” (Pudding House Publications), and “Aardvark” (West Town Press).  Recent work appears in The New Republic, Field, Epoch, Crazyhorse, Indiana Review, North American Review, Pleiades, Prairie Schooner, AGNI, Hotel Amerika, The Best Food Writing 2006, The Best Travel Writing 2009, Creative Nonfiction, Gastronomica, and others.  He recently ate cocks’ combs for the first time in Monforte d’Alba, Italy, and woke the next morning early, guttural, and way too loud.

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