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This Michigan after    life of landscape out in front of me,

mostly grass stain and forest forever      blue tarp over firewood,

stained tablecloth of canvas     yellow pears and concord grapes,

black plums grinning with their blossoms showing off

And inch-long ants with iridescent wings that walk leisurely

across the porch and right into the house, if we let them

We don’t let them     Melanie awake holds everything together,

Agnes awake imagines everything in plastic—eyes seeing,

mouths breathing, talking, and sometimes even singing little

lonely songs    I am asleep, as always, dreaming idylls,

like this one, my idling engines, loving phantasm,

some long gray spirit at the back door of this cottage

all night simply smiling, wrapped in writhing pea tendrils

Ridiculous      Yellow wax beans      Cherries and asparagus

The water tastes bright and metallic and good      Maybe

it’s just my hopeful mood, or maybe it’s not so hopeful

Maybe it’s skeptical and voracious and beautiful     I name

my American presence in America the desire for radiance

spilling into someone’s darkness, yours of course, and

everybody’s, but also my own      The lake of us lapping

this galaxy forever, this past-present-future      The Reverend

James Hart with his eyes wide open standing up in his coffin

at his funeral at the pulpit       If only I could see what he saw

and believe it as a clear true thing, that would be to see

with the eyes of beasts, cats and owls, trees and clouds,

even worried young parents calling a lost child

through a crowd, through a crowd, swarming strangers

and hornets screaming colorful confetti, blinding everything

and raging       Thunderstorms, mockingbirds, weird ragged joke

Two terrorists walk into a bar      It explodes      We are

the masters of dying never ending       I almost wrote living,

but that would be pretty





Woozy and reading     this screened-in porch

summer     Noisemaking noise      Ohio,

Indiana, and Michigan Babel     Birds


carrying on, then fighting each other


I bet the dog a feather she can’t stop it,

and she doesn’t      She lays down panting

falls asleep on her side     Something invisible


bites my left eye, and a girl who doesn’t know

that she’s visible dances     It looks

like ballet on a wooden back deck     She makes me

ecstatic to put down my book


in wonder at the motion in the air all around her

Now all around me      Even in stillness     The faint

roar of heaven in a tangle of movement, or hell

spring-loaded in a spring-loaded cabin


full of hidden passages, ambiguous voices


These days, it’s difficult to get wound up enough

to write anything worthwhile about radiance at dusk

Only in my forties, but already sloppy


Kerouac and Robert Frost, my friend Ken Henson

drawing a ghost       Tomorrow’s forecast lightning

and a chance of going off       These beers

I’ve been drinking make me feel like Zeus


Ken says the last line is “cancer”       I should cut it





This morning in the cold, I’m reminded

to be alive      Wolves and visions    Hottest

coffee possible     Stranded in Michigan, and a letter

arrives with a loud soft thud, a deep and fragile meaning


The pipes are clogged, so no one’s rocking out

But the message itself is buttery     The message

is simple    The message is immersive


Noise isn’t background     Noise is

the chaos of the given that we move through

Territory happens when we chainsaw a limb off,

apply pressure to the wound, console it for its loss


Eternity happens when we watch it bleed out     Cherry juice

and a surge in the wires      The lights begin to flicker

Contrary energies in tension with vision, or intention


with a vision     Your mannequin beside you,

but you can do a lot better     Braeburn apples

and a black mirror image      A horse nodding off

in the clamor of affections     Something I conjured


in the air without a thought     Your ear in my mouth

Your thighs in my eyes     Your sky knuckled up

to the edge of my sky






Another diabolical day in the 21st century

My dog lays down in the sweetpeas

blushing     Iran has a new president

He calls for serious talks on the nuclear

issue     I like talking—a kind of radiant

action when it’s done right, call

and response, give and take, compromise

Serious talks     Meanwhile I’ve been

dealing all day with the administrative

machinery of my new job, and actually

it’s not bad     I get to help people

who deserve it and stick it to the man

Also I just remembered that I

completely forgot to write down

those new questions about noise

in poetry: What is noise in poetry

and how is it characterized      Is it

only an aural thing, or can it be

a matter of formal distortion/dis-

ruption      More importantly, how

can we use it in our writing       Bummer

those aren’t the questions I had in mind

Before, they were so clear and full of

purple-pink blossoms, a pathway to glory

and Carrie Lorig’s Nods     I’m sort of

obsessed with Carrie Lorig, but not

in a weird way     I just remember

when I met her how shy she was,

and now she’s a fireball badass

on a mission stopping hearts

If you hang around long enough

summer turns into fall a number

of times, and you experience

so many things to love that you can’t

ever imagine leaving this life, so you

and I, because I’m talking about both

of us, just keep going as if it will never

ever stop      It will never ever stop



MATT HART is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Sermons and Lectures Both Blank and Relentless (Typecast Publishing, 2012) and Debacle Debacle (H_NGM_N Books, 2013). A co-founder and the editor-in-chief of Forklift, Ohio: A Journal of Poetry, Cooking & Light Industrial Safety, he lives in Cincinnati where he teaches at the Art Academy of Cincinnati and plays in the band TRAVEL.