Two Poems

Matthew Henriksen



Quarter to eight sun cold ball of wax

Bedroom shape-shifting again


Nothing comes across the waves

Trembling under the low spot of each atom


I hit reset and nothing happens the machine

Pouts I sit on a small chair and imagine


Clarinet disjoined from time

My wife’s boots no longer the boots in “The Dead”


But sprawled across the carpet as titanic boats

Resting interminably in a desert


While cold in this room with indecently swinging piano

People say this is not music


Tell me type a head back into time

So people who watch television can follow


Piano I imagine because divorced from reason

I can see the beach unfold I can see sound


In this place people tell me is not music

Tell me to type in a head an image that mimics sound


The cold the cold cold cold

Room not too big small room


Magnification grimaces carpet

Sheet music stereo music ear music bird screams


People who tell me this

Can’t get cold to break their dreams


Cracked bird claws on the kitchen windowsill

I get on my knees I hear them sing


I get off on getting off my escape route

To gesticulate inside a cocoon with a broken furnace


Only in the small teased out words

From a toothpaste tube does language resemble prayer


In last night’s meat I starve to say against the language

People who say this is not prayer


Scumbag of vision and particular voiced groove

Sucking up victuals from a grave in the hypothalamus


Their thirst will not deliver them from internet radio

Their stars will not grieve their transmogrifications


Ears folding a hermit crab’s shell around the face

In middling lives they walk into trees


Only hear the dull thud of stomach kissing mouth

To swallow something soft and tasteless


Perhaps a tongue without a fire

Soft without insistence


No rain

Only believed forests falling


In the dream the temperature controlled room speaks

Opposite of falling asleep I have taken the seeds from my socks and fallen asleep


Insistent on the backward word shape

Compositions intrinsic bathe beside


Bathtub song-like singing near song

No singing only landscape free of minds


Silence begat landmines

Energy of non-happening


Screams back out bird wings

Above a stalled car on the street below









When I cannot gather the fragments

I’ve collected I don’t


Do anything the world doesn’t

Do much either I mean


The world doesn’t react

Nor exist the world that isn’t


Place only name a divorce

From gone times and the device


To monitor time too doesn’t

Stop or go ahead I keep


Sitting in a basement trying

To churn words from the black


Tiles cold dust residue of spider webs

Old beer and wall rot


A place definitely my parents’

One-floor house rotted bottom up


On the inside the outside untended

The lawn sun-scorched and stomped


The dirt and grass faced up a map

Two sides to every place


In two dimensions in three

We get more than the natural history of Wisconsin


My memory beaten down maybe

Someone else who goes there can


Unwrite this poem I have seen

Only the ghosts in the sub-pump


Can speak the music I’m thinking from

Nightmare constellations out of


The pilot light a dream Blake

In Orion’s cloak holding by the hair


Einstein’s severed head I’d run

And wake up in the living room once


Barefoot on the front walk

Stars in the grass concrete


Summer cool ignitable

Music detached from music


Or not the music call the air a machine

Call vision the machine and distance


The necessary current that only kills

Unless we abide in obliteration


As an act of perception other times

I woke staring my mother down


Nick at Nite and cigarettes

I guess an oracle all


Civilizations end as I do

Dyslexic reading grave markers


Imagining corpses

To purge real dreams the night sky


Front walk dream lit with rusted ships

Alive once but arrived dead


Spoken out from a time before laughing

Failed to stay a spider sneaking


Out as sleep flinched in

Or a bottle cap kicked under the fridge


With wet crumbs and cat hair

Currencies my mother never said






Matthew Henriksen’s first book, Ordinary Sun emerged from Black Ocean in 2011.  Some recent poems appear in Fence, The Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day, Mandorla, and Bright Pink Mosquito, and a special feature of Frank Stanford’s unpublished poems, fiction, and correspondence, selected by Henriksen, appeared in Fulcrum #7.  He co-edits Typo, an online poetry journal, and Cannibal, a handmade literary journal.  With his wife, Katy Henriksen, he curates The Burning Chair Readings in Fayetteville, Arkansas.