j o r d a n    s t e m p l e m a n








No matter who
takes over the world,

they will build
within us one stiff

twin called astonishment,
unable to ever unlive.

To become spiritually
perfect, look for

the spiritually perfect
to have fearful symmetry—

Iím not dead—
of this is grief,

from this empire
the imperfect will form.

One hot time
ago, you wondered alone,

be right, be
lighter as, talk about

one mind meaning
too much to another

but keeping alive
is not the same

as kept alive.
I am biologically listening

to the cooling
allegations of just about

anything that particular.
Thereís a long voicemail

of a phone
that wonít quit ringing

and Iím talking
over it, ordering pounds

of recaptured daylight
for when we undergo

the ridiculously dark
oceans, the strangersí closets,

our strangersí closets.
Tragedy, at itís worst,

is the order
that so clips away

at our shaped
whatís missing. Marie, I

declare, I declare
Marie, how much more

understanding should we
take? Itís stopped raining.

Thatís more interesting.
Iím coming in now—

donít you wonder
if weíre also disastrous?




It wasnít true
that somewhere youíd answer

me, and then,
Iíd answer you. Cheep

goes the birds.
Just for once, remember,

is the point.
Iím pretending your time

is my time,
is, tell me again

where I am?
Oh, how terribly disproportionate

the nights are
to our days. Support,

support the knowable
for our growing unknown.

Support, our singular
good, and the loss

that comes before
I knew you. Possibly,

youíre the noteworthy
loss that the universe

still canít understand,
still canít quite comprehend

how you got
here, where youíll go.

We may say,
invention tried so hard

to become this
forward way of knowing

until outlasting enough.
Please be careful, Jim

from becoming more
than you are. Jim,

be careful enough
to leave cities bright

and badly informed.
They too come apart,

see stars, exaggerate
the number of airplanes

carrying the weight
that only a few

will ever know.
I canít tell you

Iíll someday be
maintained by an infinite

look. In human
weight, sometimes, thereís nothing

wrong with carrying
on—two floating ducks

and a person
to kiss. Nothing wrong

with somehow forgetting
the ducks, talking through

the kiss, adrift
and unsafe by comparison.




Is it struggling
to be overly aware,

phenomenon of, no,
couldnít I mean something

closer to that,
before letting it out?

With the time,
or, without the time,

my ugly, unruly
children, speak. Heavens darken

and the itching,
the tender spot of

outwardness, how itchy
it gets when old

children, trailing behind
their old, slimy trails,

speak for me,
Marie. Itís peaceful, except

for the whatever,
the clean up, whatever

Iím calling this.
Oh circus, trust me,

being reconsumed, taken
in by the earth

is fantastically better
than rearranging our minds.

Weíve moved on.
We have praise, dances

that are soundless,
I know, soundless, forever

there. Think dance,
go dance, move on.

I am mystified
by how truly accessible

you and I
are, Marie. I wonder,

do these children
have the mind, besides

the early longing
to want nothing more

than the precise
bother of being precise?

Youíre right, Marie.
Death is the most

inhuman walk around
ourselves. Such places, think

and say nothing
of such places. I

donít sound like
anybody here. I promise

Iíll keep quiet
if you keep quiet.


JORDAN STEMPLEMAN is the author of six books of poetry. His most recent collection, Doubled Over, was published by BlazeVOX Books in 2009. Individual poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Colorado Review, Court Green, The Hat, The Laurel Review, New American Writing, Notnostrums, and Sixth Finch. He teaches at the Kansas City Art Institute and is the Associate Editor of The Continental Review: a video-only forum for contemporary poetry and poetics.

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