Rodney Koeneke


O.K.-it's Easter Sunday
I'm snug inside a gender
& down to my salad weight

Birdsong from the pollard trees
leaves one feeling poleaxed,
fit to slick the moment
up to what it's good for: a community swim
to the future
conceived as a succession of eternal instants
unflexing in hostile melodic situations
improvised by martins
in their androgene symmetry

These are tough minutes
between twilight and sunset
the satisfaction of one luminous regime
enjambed in the despotism of the next

The sound of beertrucks comes around
whispering thoughts of distributorships

Light, a constant mothersource
flows through the panes
naughty cherubs installed
to break over beautiful things

The flavor of persimmons in their context

eglatine, that useless blue
expedient Technicolor syllabaries

Spell out the Inuit for "idiot"
for 'I',
for just plain dumb

A door closes-
some of its promise
leaks off into air

Ready on a dime
to swell its tent in the actual,
that spacious pitch
lodged somewhere between the kasbah
and the souk. Minutes pile up
like monuments,
phenomena that won't

Stop happening-'x' instantiated in a weather
that rains on our stellar prognostications
of a future
with a literature
for us

The more I struggle,
The tighter the noose
(Anthony Braxton)

If you feel real loose, like a long-necked goose
the point is not to convince you it's a finger,
but to demonstrate its relation, albeit distant,
to some larger structure

Freaks find one another
by an inexorable logic,
Two scooters that start on the very first pull
converting "oohs" to ohms

Paroxysms of saxophones
organized for maximum noise
imperious, as usual

I pity the fool exogamous enough
to organize a panel
around some of these issues,
to strum a self-pitying fado
where syrup is more de rigueur

Again with the strings
that scoop up the krill
from the unheard clefs-
reducing our oeuvre to repertoire
in light of a spectacular absence
of public gestures
among the exacting rigor
of successful cocktail banter

(Not that I buy the New Yorker)

Beautiful systems grind above us.
It's Easter; I'm down to my salad weight
the martins converge on new forms of despotism
A life unsuited to the day's memoir
Is beginning its startling tale

Of a hale, undertraumatized youth
Szechwan and porky
apolitical, sexy

Assembling his seconds
like a Loony Tune cartoon,
Some glowery and unrepentant
Others pissed off and massing in the

Rodney Koeneke is a person of very gentlemanly instincts in every respect, save that he is a little heterodox in the matter of clean linen. He's the author of J. Edgar Hoover Hears the Blues (1998) and Introducing . . . Doctor Marvelous! (2001). His new work, Rouge State, is almost finished and includes the poems you see here. He lives and writes in San Francisco.