The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Ron Czerwien

Inscription Found On The Back Of A Postage Stamp


Caribou rub velvet from their antlers trade it
for motel sewing kits airline liquor bottles
the pure products of personal hygiene
once manufactured in industrial towns dotting
the eastern seaboard which now lie in ruin
abandoned to roaming gangs of top hats
garter belts phrases like "So's your old man" and
"Twenty-Three Skiddo" I saw the best mimes of my
generation destroyed by endless performances
of a man trapped inside an invisible box or leaning
against an invisible wall and I will show you something
different from either a leaky barrel of toxic waste
busy selling the lopsided handicrafts of fanatics

It's the kind of waking dream one can only have in
New York in November where a longshoreman sees
the likeness of Lou Reed in a bialy and when the Pope
comes to town it's declared a miracle you can find
a place to park there will be time there will be time
after this poem for Corona and lime to explain why
late capitalism is tardy why the Kardashians are as
entertaining as Get Well balloons at a funeral what
sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their
skulls and ate up their brains and imagination these
politicians with personas crafted as carefully as the
sincerity of a cruise director's in spite of their names
silverfish can't swim hug any Maria and you’ll be cured

The unpeopled boulevards and piazzas of de Chirico's
imagination have been gentrified but Max Ernst's stallion
still wears its guts on the outside galloping into this
neutral air where blind skyscrapers use their full height
to proclaim we are as predictable as snow in a Russian
novel as the look of boredom on the face of the cop
waving us past the twisted wreckage of logic justifying
another shooting is meaning an affair of consciousness
and not of words is it the merger of the horizon of the reader
with the horizon in which the text occurs racists bathe in
baptismal fonts a banker says "We don't just manage money,
we manage people" Ben Sidron sings “we’re gone before
we’re here” in Tlingit there is no word for 'good-bye'

In spite of its name Western Marxism does not
wear a Stetson hat or assless chaps Postcolonial
Williamsburg is not a thing yet I'm with you in
Rockland rolling up top down rolling up out of chaos
aestheticized decontextualized demythologized
eroticized globalized historicized marginalized
the unpurged images of Instagram recede
if you see something do you know something
there's no official height designation to differentiate
a mountain from a hill the thing you're after may
lie around the bend she'll be coming round
the mountain when she comes when she comes
a wishbone will catch in the world's throat




RON CZERWIEN is the owner of Avol’s Books LLC, which sells used & out-of-print books on the internet. His poems have appeared online and in print journals. His poem, "A Ragged Tear Down The Middle Of Our Flag," was recently published by Locofo Chaps. Ron hosts the monthly "Madtown Poetry Open Mic Series" at Mother Fool’s Coffeehouse, in Madison, Wisconsin.



Previous | Next