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Eric Howard: Three Poems

Eric Howard studied poetry with Robert Mezey and Karen Swenson at the Claremont Colleges before working as a substitute junior high school, high school, and college teacher while living in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Silver Lake. He later obtained a master’s degree in English from California State University while studying prosody with Henri Coulette. He currently lives near the Los Angeles River and its bike path. The poem “Taliban Beach Party” concerns an event put on by the Los Angeles Cacophony Society.

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*****

Saint John

On a dark night, happy, burning
with want, I went unnoticed
from my quiet house in shadow,
took the back stairs without stopping.
Disguised, that moonless night,
in secret and without light,
no guide but my desire, I walked
as sure as noon to where he waited
to know me well, where no one saw.

Night that guided me, I thank you.
Night that united lover and beloved,
beloved and Love, night more lovable
than dawn, you taught my heart to grow flowers
for him alone as he lay sleeping
and I touched his hair beneath the fanning cedar.
He reached so calmly for my neck and wounded me there,
I hardly felt myself stop breathing,
but I stayed, and I forgot myself.
I rested my face on him and let everything go,
every worry to the grass, all harm forgotten.

[Note: “Saint John” is a translation of a poem by the Spanish mystic poet Saint John of the Cross (1542-91).]

***

To Money

In the rainbow-ceilinged hotel foyer
motivational syllables sail
out from the follow-your-bliss seminar.
The Goldberg Variations rain upon
a figure-eighting fly. Conversations
buzz around you, arpeggios that start
“I love . . . .” Outside, a girl with a tattoo
that rounds her shoulder slowly works a broom
kitchenward, the uneven window panes
bending her in silence from youth to age.

***

Side Effects May Include

Amanuensis of the hand on the sides of your life
Bipedalism across the young plains in a fur bikini
Curtilage of the tongue and throat
Demurrage for the weight of the smoke
Easement for symptoms that may persist because you’re alive
Fraud upon your house
Gog and Magog across the San Fernando Valley
Hermeneutics of fire giants running uphill
Imminence of horror and latex
Joinder to Yellow Wallpaper v. Gregor the Beetle
Kenosis of the bath house and porn set
Laches of “you know I still love you”
Mitosis of some happy dayglow chick
Noema of the man from nowhere on trial for murder
Orderliness of the refrigerators that will be cleaned out at 3 P.M.
Periphrasis for diving into meat grinders
Quintillions of first years of service
Replevin of the Worldwide Mad Deadly Hollywood Gangster Computer God
Spam from ghosts of your past lives
Transubstantiation of all the numbers of the phone system
Unclean hands upon the world
Viscosity of ketchup or Tapatío
Warbling of pharmacists at Kaiser on Sunset
Xylographia five years experience $10 an hour
Yodeling internship opportunity
Zarzuela of stars and hangers-on and homeless

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