ISSUE  1   2   3  


 5     SUBMIT

Three Poems

Hugh Behm-Steinberg


Say it was in the morning,          and you were out on the sidewalk,           perhaps you
           were checking the mailbox,           you see a tooth, and it’s like when           you see one
thing and then           you see everything, you see           multitudes of the same thing,
a row, a forest of teeth,           you hear a rumble,           it’s as loud as creation,
but it’s only a dump truck,           in an infinite line           of dump trucks
shifting gears, backing up           roaring           with their loads of teeth,
which they pour,           all around you,           in clouds of toothdust
spilling out into the street.

So, nearly buried, white, after being           held under so long,           reading your mail,
you think,           if I had a big enough pillow,           I’d be rich!

And you think,           there are chairs to be made           out of this.
I know a man somewhere           who will sit           in one of these chairs,
he will eat rocks in his beans,           he will eat rocks in his soup,
don’t worry, it’s not out of punishment           he isn’t suffering           he has iron teeth
which he uses           for just such actions,           turning one thing into another,
“an unctuous and viscous water,           which is the true matter
of all the ancient philosophers”           part of which is made out of stone
and part of which            is made out of teeth.

He is your friend.           He sends you a letter,           the white envelope of which
you are now holding, asking for some.           Incisors, or molars,           bicuspids
if you have any           you can spare, he’s building           a chair.

It comes over you in waves,           you are laughing, with your teeth,           your own, safe
in your face,           thirty-two           permanent teeth,           you think           each one
is sign and symbol           that is just your enthusiasm           for this world, its waves
of stone,           of teeth,           its particles, particularities,           a small mouth
for each of           your thoughts.


When you can stop singing           and say what you mean,           having faith           that you can
say what you mean.           Then meaning comes toward you           like the ground           (it never
leaves you)           like running down           a mountain,           jumping from           rock           to
rock           it is terrifying.           It feels so good.           You can get yourself
killed doing this.

Gridding, after some sentences by Agnes Martin

When I first made a grid           I happened to be thinking           on the innocence of trees
and then a grid came           into my mind and I thought           it represented innocence
and I was satisfied           to think of migrations,           of waterfowl in a v-shaped formation
of crossing           through this process,           but never myself having to leave.
Then the angels looked down           and they make us           perceive each other.
What was unknown           becomes patterned.

And this is how           you introduce           divinity to the work,
which trembles           from the act of inventing           the angelic by
merging           songbirds with people,           then forcing them upward
until all the trees           crown           as do people
just as they are born,           because you introduce           divinity to the world.

And when I once was so stupid           now I am awake
admiring your work.