“SEPTEMBER NOTEBOOK (2017)” by Daniel Poppick

"Untitled" by Emily Mueller / emilymullerart.com




No Black Hair Mountain. No change of clothes. No young girl named Double. No friend from whom I’ve stolen poems. No horse sent back with money in its saddle. No house named “Death Barrier.” No “life-taking stones.” No mirrors, no meter. No feet, no sneakers. No people, no plants, no heat, no speaker. Unlike Bashō, my home’s no future. * A metaphor that is only partially ruined, partially consistent. Pink essay. * I thought of what Carly had said about certain metaphors being ugly; certain metaphors cannot be repaired. Still, I wonder what it might take to “repair” any metaphor. * The postcard was invited to the sea. The river sent the postcard to the sea. The river wrote on the sea as if it were a postcard. The river that was our intern. * “What happens to the intern?” Colby said. * I’ve been an intern more times than I care to admit. Auden tells us what happens to them:               And down by the brimming intern                   I heard a lover sing               Under an arch of the railway:                   “Love has no ending…” And the deep intern ran on. * All houses are a kind of tomb for daylight. * Whose tears will fuel this daylight tomb as it motors over paper. * “See how the embankment sprints into delphinium, son? Its name made it run away, and run that way.” * Always pitching forward and to the side, like a train emerging from its summer shell. * A rageful happiness overtook him, and he smiled at the officer. * My shirt laughed at me. * Singing “Can I Get a Witness” to myself one evening as I passed a restaurant from which its final chorus spilled. * Carly’s face hardened for a moment when I reminded her of when she had corrected an ugliness in my poem. Our train passed under the river. The other passengers read from their phones or sunk into their buds. The light was bad and warm. After a moment of silence she replied, “But as friends we had a reason to talk that through.” I’m paraphrasing. We hugged as I got off at Hoyt-Schermerhorn. * Man in Fort Greene with a tumescent, fatherly physique stretches his arm behind his head and says into his phone, “My problem is I have a pretty tight window.” * He sucked his eyes beneath an undertow of scandal, one by one. * A fetish exists in the mind, but pleasure is in one’s feet. My metallic blue face surveyed the grass beneath them. * I like this aftermath even more than when we first met. * “Something was the end of that,” he sang compliantly. * Dispatching his lyrics into the maw of the three-headed melody. * She’d been accumulating choruses when the power cut out. She, who had invented this instrument. * My votes expressed in the forest now expressed on the avenues. My votes the sparrows, my votes the rats, my votes the screen displaying train arrival times. Ambiguity of question, clarity of answer. * “What is” walks away from “is” and slams the hatch shut behind it. * The wheat levels its signal. My votes the wheat, my votes the water, my votes the little alphabet. * Ignorant water. Dumb little alphabet. * My house’s seal is leaking. I walked inside and played the roof’s seal back to it in major scales. This rubberized, tuneful roof. * A new genre of writing called “Bach” inspired by proto-cubist breathing. This breathing is the sound of someone being of two minds. * The genre entered its password into my eyes, and there in the theater I wept freely. If “Bach” sounds cybernetic, the effects of its deeds upon the body tell a different story. * Last night when I went to see the Goldberg Variations for the first time in a totally even-keeled mood I began spontaneously weeping. As if the notes were a password. It is possible that the notes were telling me to mourn? My grandfather has recently been ill, and it doesn’t look good—but he’s still alive. In music half of grief is retrospective, but half of it is speculative. Grief is so sci-fi. * “My house was not finished for winter, but was merely a defense against the rain.” (Thoreau) I lay me down to greet the budding worms. * Half the time I erased my comments from the feed. More rarely I sang what I had just erased into the blank Rolodex of evening. More rarely still, evening’s contacts returned my call.



Daniel Poppick is the author of The Police (Omnidawn, 2017) and Fear of Description (Penguin, 2019), selected by Brenda Shaughnessy for the National Poetry Series. His recent writing appears in BOMB, Kenyon Review, the PEN Poetry Series, The Fanzine, and at the Poetry Foundation. A recipient of fellowships from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the Corporation of Yaddo, and the MacDowell Colony, he currently lives in Brooklyn, where he works as a copywriter and co-edits the Catenary Press with Rob Schlegel and Rawaan Alkhatib.