five prose pieces from Sea Lyrics, 1996
I am the waterfront and I cover
the waterfront and all the boats all know me, I am the foreignest
of birds and the shadows of sails upon martinis, I am underwater
buying jam and drinking stolen coffee, I am pelagic now and sober,
having recently discovered all the birds.
I am barbecuing eucalyptus pigs of
hills and brightly colored housetops, I am waiting for my senses to
come back, I am a cabbalistic moment all in black, I am your
drunken Irish brother and the plantains on the lawn, I am the
tourists hoarding sharks teeth, I am the empty grain silos of
Bernal Heights and god, and I am you on the back of a motorcycle
crossing Dolores in the pineapple groves of Elvis Costello,
sleeping all night, inside of the artificialist lagoons, beyond the
palm trees, I am a drag queen named Heather not quite ready for New
I won’t go to the waterfront anymore, I am
basking on a beach far from the army, I am pointing to a thousand
speckled birds, I am watching the salads roll down to the shore, I
am on the grounds of Mission High School with the murderers, I am
near the edge of all the bungalows, I am reaching toward the
pineapples to reach, I am dreaming the dreams I hardly know and
know I have tattoos, I am in the ambulance at dawn, I am in this
town beneath where you have jumped from bridges row by row, from
the midtown light, I am in the dreams Lucretius, I have helped you
to assemble all the mammals on the lawn.
Massive and damp, on the ell
curve by the Cliff House, next to the nude beach on the barrios
that point, where I used to like the Grateful Dead but now I’m
just a satanist, this is the Café Bohème where I spend my
time, these are the sneakers I’d like to look cool in, this is
the hallway with plantains and people I know, these are my
neighbors, that is the jukebox place, these are the people who
sleep on my steps, this is the man in the laundromat who wishes he
was Carol Burnett.
I am this Santa Ana wind and we are bowlers, we are at the haircut man, I have divulged so little of the avocado dawn, I am waiting to buy coffee near the docks upon the square, I am all the hot dogs and the roof of city hall, I am hardly standing in the kamikaze rain, I am of the new year sober now, I am inside of all the horoscopes at once, I am the rainy part of early fall expecting to go back across the bridges, I am near the greenish plantains down the street, I am the subtler angles of the sunlight from the surface of the moon, I am here to yet predict the dawn, I am getting better like the oceans on the sidestreet, I am surrounded by water, I am walking sideways near the church in Watsonville upon the orange line at Lammas Tide.
Peter Gizzi, Lisa Jarnot, in the audience at a poetry reading by Jennifer Moxley and Andrea Brady at Teachers and Writers, New York, 13 Nov 1997. Photograph copyright © John Tranter, 1997
Lisa Jarnot edits the St Mark’s in the Bowery Poetry Project newsletter in New York City. She has published Phonetic Introductions, The Fall of Orpheus, and Some Other Kind of Mission. These five pieces are from the chapbook Sea Lyrics, published by Situations Press in New York.
J A C K E T # 2 Contents page
This material is copyright © Lisa Jarnot