FOUR POEMS by Rebecca Hazelton

/ / Issue 11, Poetry



Say hi to California for me. Say hi to lovely weather.
I hear your movie is a good one. Your movie is a winner.
Say good morning to the good girl beside you. Say hello

to good decisions. The bread and the toast it becomes.
The sweet unction of jam and the dull knife that spreads it.
There are ratings for content and there are ratings

for effectiveness. Give this breakfast a thumbs-up, give this
daily bread an M for Mature. You are no longer the man
who wakes in his own sick. You are a clean and gleaming

example of the benefits of benefits, the outcome of income.
Hello car, hello driveway, my goodness it’s been
forever since we gridlocked together, since we were caught

in a pattern and sidelined. Hello burning vehicle. Hello
tire smoke. Use your turn signal when passing. Politeness
is a virtue is a virtuous man. LA is a town and LA is a set

piece for noir and incest. I hear you bought all
the orange groves. I hear you’re a pipeline and a girl
with a fresh nose job goodbye goodbye. You inhale

and she inhales the good day the good idea
and the smog isn’t smog it’s potential.






The habit of sealing up sweetness,
                        of saving but never
             tasting, isn’t lost
when the drones disperse,
and the queen
is left to starve.
                      These uncapped frames
with ready-made cells
                           say there are six sides
to every argument
                           and there are six arguments
for abandoning your home,
but each can be built
upon and expanded.
                        Even when the chemicals
in our body smooth and the horizon blues
                                    from contaminants,
there’s still a synapse
or two that crackles
                           with self-denial,
that prefers the look
                             of honey in a jar
left to darken unopened,
                  the comb floating
                                          like a ruin.





When Napoleon wrote
                        to Josephine, “Am returning in three days. Don’t wash,”
he wanted her
                        concentrated, the sweet and the rank
            in the crevices
of her underarms, the accumulations
                                    of perfume
                                    dabbed over days
            in negotiation with the stiffer perfume of her crotch,
which we call musk, which we describe as animalic,
                        acknowledging our flirtation
with the fecal and fecund,
            the way we sniff, wrinkle our noses, and sniff again.
To reproduce
            this aroma we’ve hunted musk deer, killed muskrats,
dried organs, ground them, tinctured the grains
and then anointed
                        our bodies with the complex
            scent that attracts and repels
Napoleon couldn’t know
                        this battlefield missive
                        would be passed on and repeated
in varying shades of admiration and disgust,
            or that one day he’d be a synonym for a man
overcompensating. He was of average height for the period.
                        Upon Napoleon’s death,
the attending doctor cut off the corpse’s penis
                        and gave it to a priest in Corsica
                                                            like a relic,
            which, improperly preserved, shrank
and thinned to a leather shoelace,
                        redolent of sandalwood,
              tying us together
                              by what repels and binds.





Tomorrow there will be a better tomorrow
if we go to bed early if we say our prayers
there will be a cessation to this still weather
but not a tornado. Tomorrow the sprinklers
will click against the drought
during appointed times and the small pines
will stand stranded in red clay.
The bubble skylights of Walmart will aim
their security cameras to the heavens.
There will be cleanups on aisles five and six.
There will be returns. The hideous apings of sex
from our neighbors carrying across the asphalt
are not like our hideous apings of sex spilling over
the window frames. Ours call the world into new focus.
Tomorrow we will make promises. We will say our prayers.
We will go to a church recognized suitably Christian.
A hat will be passed though no one wears hats anymore.
If our prayers have answers they aren’t these children
bicycling in aimless circles in the parking lot, singing
the song of the summer. Someone like you. Someone like you.