The Shapes

The sun through a window put a shape on your head
Another shape moved—on the pillows—the walls
Music and Light at the All Morning Motel
When you slam the car door the whole water vibrates

We loaded the car and got out of the car
I pulled my arm from the seat through the carpeted woods
Dead cars in the culvert, the woods and the stream
Wind shapes moved off like hands through the reeds

Something small, something toothed, wriggled in mud
At times—still and wakeful—moaning—I watched
A nipple, the pines, blue stones and then words
Just put up a finger; say something wet

And your face will rise up and shimmer with eyes
I’d never been that close to a shape
It’s like trying to say the water is ´´there´´
And flow over rocks and glimmer at once

You pulled your arm from the wall, sticky with shapes
Later­—we died—in your room—with our mouths
Light slickened the leaves—the wind—it’s not me
Beyond that: a wall, more skeptical trees



A storm above land, swirled over, unthought
While light filled the fields with tinier eyes
The saints flashed their mirrors, the windows surged up
I go over there—but it doesn’t exist

Difficult too was how the things mooed
How milk increased, how the path flew away
The wind fattened itself and fluffed up the leaves
I really don’t know which thing could be me

This is where in the story that the “I” turns to “crimes”
The film works like this and it pushes me back
To run along then through blue fields of chalk
The words take their line from the unreadied dead

I discovered dead men and their system of cars
Their smoking system: How to lie on the grass
With hair photographed and your face wrinkled up
While the distance resigned or held out a tree

I stared at that cross disguised as a tree
And evolved—of my brain—some more wooden brains
In the mirrors: “pine boughs”, “fog” and then “rain”
I should have said “stains”: my body was there


Pleasure House

This table tastes like old weather was here
I’d approached through the fog, spinning off body heat
And it’s like a voice flowed over some beings laid out
In the window: a cloud—it’s “the difficult face”

After that I began to have fingers and eyes 
And climbing the hill noticed noises on plants
It was then that I sat and looked back on the sea
That was after I’d stared at the coins in my head

I glowed and missed the chambers of court
Where I was expressed in the window and desk
O pleasure—I thought—these lips—I’m alive
While Pussycat mewled and slept on its drugs

I think it means I want to go serve
But it’s hard to rummage so much in the sea
To slide open each shape, with a slobbery sound
I went over there—but it didn’t exist

O north boundary—east boundary—shapes in the fog
Knee-high ornamentals—fog stains—on the walls
I’m a short term, successful sequence of dirt
I’ve said it before, the sea rips me in half



ANTHONY MCCANN was born and raised in the Hudson Valley. He is the author of I ♥ Your Fate (Wave Books, 2011), Moongarden (Wave Books, 2006) and Father of Noise (Fence Books, 2003). In addition to these three collections, he is one of the authors of Gentle Reader! (2007), a book of erasures of the English Romantics, along with Joshua Beckman and Matthew Rohrer. Currently he lives in Los Angeles, where he works with Machine Project and teaches in the School of Critical Studies at the California Institute of the Arts.