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Jacket 19 — October 2002   |   # 19  Contents   |   Homepage   |  Catalog   |
This issue of Jacket is a collaboration with Verse magazine

James McCorkle

Two poems

‘The Hake is Bad’

There is no escaping, and of course no explanations
for what came next, the shadows moving
on the walls, trivets overturned; someone else
would have objected and demanded recourse,
all the while whispers of malcontent and noisome
eddying about the room. Our own choice
of the matter was simple, noting the plaza
outside was in bloom with plane trees (who first
noticed, I can’t recall), the sky was dropping into
its alizarin spectrum, when others would say they are late
and hurry for a seat. Meanwhile, she turned in profile,
toward us without explanation other than the door
swung open at that moment, who you came to call
the Basque woman, though when I turned, she was
gone (and you whispered it ‘was the dream of the night’).
(This was another enigma that years later I would
return to, seated at this very window, the sky suffuse
in alizarin, but this is another matter, this return.)
Instead, you turned to me and whispered, ‘it is my remembrance
of the Basque woman,’ then added ‘like a dream in the night,’
hoping to set the record straight. Everything went on
as it had, emotions scattered, crews sprayed turf onto
embankments, lights went off remotely.
I was thinking of the cult of the self and the places I
hadn’t been, Delfini, a story no one would understand when
you passed me that note, ‘enchantress’ someone whispered
nearby, a woman turned in profile, looking toward something
that doesn’t yet exist, the spectrum’s region, the wind’s
dementia in plane trees. At another table, a strand of beads
broke, splattering, you turned and said it was going to rain,
I remember.


We only go to movies in Kansas, I heard
Her say, another mentioned only having sex
In Bismarck, but who was counting
The peas on the plate to the left of the
Duchess, at that point it was remarked
A deer had plunged through the window
Of the exchange sending the policies into
Arrays of murderesses, afterall it is said
During times of separation the best is
Always last, he muttered in desperation, quietly
It could be remarked, she replied the need
To retire with the cockatoo for the night,
Having only just met us that afternoon
At Broadway and Prince, and summer
Was still with us then, as were some others then,
At that point the Duchess continued he
Was given to melancholia; she hadn’t heard
That before and brightened and announced
The plot had thickened, although some
Were already leaving without explanation,
Perhaps the comedians had forgotten
Their cues, the Cimmerians beyond the gates
Demanding recompense from their age-old
Misery, afterall you whispered, your hand
On my thigh, it would be best to send in
The emissaries to squelch rumors of revision,
Outside the gravel crushed under wheels,
Those at the gates were joined by others
Whose positions were previously only rumored
Or footnoted in historical texts, it was raining
When the Duchess announced the air hung
In disarray, perhaps smelt of smoke
And industrials, afterall, the other one whispered
To me, the fisheries along
The coast had all but disappeared in recent decades,
The outer banks barren shoals ships toss upon
Lost, conversations slipping in midst of it all.

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