Art

Agog, Anew – Madison Maurer

How Now the Drowned Ground

 

The birds are running across the ninth
hole fairway, Northward. 
The rain starts melodiously. 
Three turkeys are getting sluiced, 
their necks tucked in, just standing. 

One of them approaches the pond
and plays near the water’s edge, 
then they disappear in a moment
and the musical rain turns 
into a downpour. 

There is no life in sight now, 
only trees withstanding. 
The high hems of the babywillows
move like a pendulum, 
the palm trees look like they do 
on the news and the porch gutters
amplify everything considerably.  

The cat asks why we are on the porch, 
I say I want to watch the world dreaming.

 

There hung icicles at the frame

 

There hung icicles at the frame
of the side door. At any moment, 
the sharp edges could come down
onto a head, so I felt it best
to get rid of them. 

I sift through the snow to find a rock 
in that pile on the left side of the house, 
keeping the downhill stream out. 

I throw the rocks over and over 
until each icicle falls, softly
landing in a crunchy, semi-permanent
winter snow, falling some inches
below the surface, forming a small 
icicle graveyard. I desirously plow
through the lot to eat my flavorless
fill of dirty ice-carrots, which feel 
massive in my tiny, mitted hands.

When I finish, I lie plopped like a starfish
in a hand-me-down snowsuit, 
some inches below the surface, 
waiting in my shallow, open grave
for fresh, sharp icicles to form. 

 

The City

 

In Berlin, the sun is setting over the slate-gray 
city, you barely notice, it is only two degrees darker
than daylight. Bartender Paul is likely waking up
now, having his first stovetop coffee, organizing
and setting the percolator with his paintfilm finger tips. 

My friends are spread throughout the architecture
of the city in splintered neighborhoods
resonant of East and West. The new, confined, 
shared soviet layout and the old, sprawling 
Weimar luxury of space and beauty. Everywhere, 
there are babies in balaclavas and wool onesies. 

Since I left the city, two birthdays, a new job, 
a lost job, a second decision to leave come spring,
a couple moving in together, missed café-dates.
The city tends not to keep its inhabitants lest
you were born into it or are decided to withstand
its trials that you take on as self-infliction. 

The Leute squabble for an Ethiopian breakfast
after spending an evening or two in the
thumping warehouse of industrial noise. 
The remnants of what was cool has turned
into money and the stupid Jugend and the 
loyal elders stay poking away at the embers. 

When you begin to see tulips in the Markt
you are almost through the brunt of it. 
We all complain of the gray but it is why we came.
To suffer the drear for the profoundness of beauty
is as human as taking a shit in the morning. 

 

Seahorse 

 

A long time ago at the beach,
you let me piss on your back in the sea. 
I held on piggy style, my arms
wrapped around your shoulders,
your hands grabbing my ankles,
your feet, dragging along the sodden sand,
while my faith alone was carrying me. 

 

Land O’Lakes American White Cheese

 

I am a fool bred by the unconditional love
of a father and the caterwaul voices of a mother trying.
I never thought the world would give me less 
than everything. My stomach ached and I laid
on the marble floor next to the toilet. My heart broke
and I sat on the edge of the dock, staring into the sea.

I am born from the crab grass backyard,
the dock rocking like a large cradle. 
I grew with the flocks of geese, the pair of swans
in the marsh, who were always swimming.
I spent afternoons at twelve with friends,
scraping off the barnacles from the canoe thinking,
why can’t they stay?

They are loyal to where they stay. 
They are loyal to where they stay. 

I am wed to the insistence of commitment in midwinter.
The snow is not harsh; it is no inconvenience
when there is milk in the fridge, potatoes
in the brown bag, when there’s an SUV in the driveway
with treaded tires. I am making the hot coco,
I am darning the wool and I am loyal to where I stay. 

I am come for the pleasure that is wet and smelly,
the salt in the air that makes a film on the skin, 
the sticky clam feeling on the fingers that touch me,
skipping and shaking. I am straining with the fated feeling 
that’s undulating and seldom like vintage illness. I am uncouth 
and longing in my seat for the sweet scent off
your briny neck that created duty in me. 

I am a child of five sitting crisscross and barefoot
on a blanket in my backyard. I have all my barbies with me 
and they are mostly naked. I have a plate
of cubed Land O’Lakes American white cheese
and Boars Head honey ham and I am singing

I am loyal to where I stay
I am loyal to where I stay

 

Raymond Carver Short Story as a Tweet 

 

My roommate comes home at 9:30am. I am sitting 
in the kitchen in a silent, sleepy fog drinking
coffee and eating eggs. He asks me about
mercury in retrograde. I say I hadn’t noticed. 
I am pmsing. He pours himself a cup of coffee, 
says “I have zoom therapy” and leaves for his bedroom. 

 

My Mother asks me how I like my coffee

 

My mother texted to say she is looking forward to having me home and asked me how I like to make my coffee. She needs a new machine to buy for her house and she might as well get something I like since I will be staying there for a month. She says she is open to suggestions or I can even pick something out if I’d like and she would buy it. This is a very kind gesture, which I tell her, but I am also aware of the delicacy of the matter. Our relationship is kind of like Milton Bradley’s Operation. If I pick a coffee machine or method too complicated or too expensive, it will only confirm my mother’s notion that I am always a bit too complicated or my taste too expensive, which makes things difficult for not only her but everyone else around me.

So, I fib. I say I am not so picky about my coffee; a half-truth. I am in many respects a snob and I’m particular, unless I’m not. I enjoy fine coffee, fine dining, fine clothing, the fine arts, fine experiences and fine people. I desire the Sublime in everything and sometimes this includes trash. I also enjoy gas station coffee with a Slim-Jim, peeing outside, fast food from the drive-thru, a sailor’s mouth, a smoke-filled bar with a pool table, messy hair, and watching Jersey Shore. I love the margins. It is the mediocre masking as fine that I despise, the middle-man. The 5-dollar cappuccino that tastes stale and the milk isn’t steamed properly but is merchandized as local and kitschy. The sustainable fashion store using child labor and polyester. When someone thinks the high-class drink to order is an espresso martini but anyone with real taste knows you stick to a classic. 

I tell my mother I am not picky, but I hate the one-cup coffee pods. This is true. Not only are the one-cup coffee pods wasteful in design, but they have the awful off-putting nature of mediocrity. They do not have the nostalgia of the bad cup of coffee or the sacrosanctity of the fine cup of coffee. Not to mention, they are anything but cost effective. Now I think about what coffee method would be a perfect fit for my mother, who doesn’t drink coffee, not for me.

My mother is a social creature. She lives in a beach neighborhood and has many friends, who always seem to be coming and going. She loves to entertain and she entertains coffee drinkers. How perfect then, to buy a standard coffee pot, which can produce 4-12 cups of coffee in one go. It’s cost effective and practical. I can buy my own Ethiopian beans from a non-binary barista and guzzle my 4 cups of coffee in peace and no one’s feelings would get hurt.

As a second suggestion I made in the case she didn’t want a bulky coffee machine, since she is tea drinker and would likely only take it out of storage for entertaining or for me, is the stovetop Bialetti. I mentioned she doesn’t need to get the name brand, but figured they would have it at Target and it would make it easier for her to find or order online. It’s cheap, small, good for one or two people, and would look darling on her stainless steel, gas stove range. The stove top percolator also has a certain romantic charm for me. I love the sound it makes when it’s done. It doesn’t squeal like a kettle, but you can hear the rolling boil, like a hot tub with jets. 

My mother is pleased with my suggestions and thanks me, happy I wasn’t so picky after all. She likes that I am open-minded and willing to try new things and I am pleased that I am able to avoid an awkward situation, because given a real choice, I would rather one of those hipster pour-over stations because after all, I am complicated and expensive.