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This is Jacket 12, July 2000   |   # 12  Contents   |   Homepage   |   Catalog   |

John Latta

Three poems


Bourgeois chic in the city

Occasions a joint erotic visibility:

Singly certifiable and avowedly hard.

To attack ‘that old thing,

Art’ by running it down

Is undoubtedly due: a simple

Nonverbal unreliability’s just the thing —

Void avoidance, Zippo breakage, inestimable

Traffickings. Regions next any counter-

Factual attract, vaudeville to video.

Handheld mimetic preconditioning and all

Th’ardent orthographies of seeing, plus.

I a portrait in retreat,

One abrupt and publicly drawn

Out, genre melodrammatici, with all

Th’insolence, little gall, of th’autochthonous.


A plangency in the thermal

Updrafts, and the oceanic body

All succulence and commingling, scooter

Tradewinds on the cha-cha

Boats and despondency: its fragrance

And accent covering it all.

Xerox is tumuli and barrows,

A dry continent, a surface,

And one’s own unsheath’d anticipatory

Soul mutter-stuck in tremolos

Of saying what utter’d oncet

Enters into heaven, unh hunh.

Oh that’s how things were

In our mimeo-sniff days —

We dubious specimens, too, stencil-

Masters of our several selves.


At a massy distance, cloud-

Slabs, pumice-stones blotting up

A blue that defaceth memory.

So that: humble and Chaplinesque,

I soot lineaments of pathos

With grief ’like a foule

Bumbard’ bee what doth droneth

With ’swiche glarynge eyen,’ mad

Driveller of Saint Imbecile. Such

Is the welter-end of

Unmire’d fickle complacency — an obedience

Grim and unhistorical to language

And its laws. Here the

Paltry imitant sits, word-shorn

And insane, hewn and hand-

Scabble’d, picking at its nits.

John Latta lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His first collection, Rubbing Torsos, appeared in 1979 (Ithaca House). Recent poems of his have appeared or are forthcoming in The Germ, New American Writing, The Iowa Review, Notre Dame Review, American Letters & Commentary, Sulfur, Verse, Chicago Review, Skanky Possum, The Hat, and elsewhere.

You can read another poem by John Latta in Jacket # 8.

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