9.8 / August 2014

Four Poems

The Patron Saint of Tailgaters

Under firecracker eyes
rheumy nostrils flare

in your rearview mirror

as he chomps on another
mouthful of curses

for you to rehearse

on Sunday afternoons
when biddies pile into Buicks

after prunes and Tic-Tacs

green lights aglow
above blue beehives

while crooked feet

clumsily tap brakes
as if trying to keep time

with acid hymns.

Skating Past Midnight at Bryant Park

Sure I am about to float,
                            I shutter my eyes and slide
past the official closing time,
              prepared to soar on a sliver

of hope—when the music stops
                            and a sudden draft sends me
sideways. I teeter on a metal edge
              and then see myself

rising in the silver pane
                            and as my palms connect
with those of my double
              coldness courses through me

making me wonder if after
                            everything melts away
the water here will be deep
              enough for drowning.

The Inestimable Head of Jeremy Bentham

Replaced by a wax pretty boy,
              I daresay my body cares

not in the least about the fraud,
              but my students demand

the real me; they will not accept
              a mere simulacrum

of wisdom. They understand, pumped
              full of methanol and formaldehyde,

I am become the perfect sage,
              purged of sweat and tears

that weigh down the ordinary
              human spirit. It is me

they lovingly smuggle
              outdoors in the gloaming,

pass across the quadrangle
              from foot to foot, tap away

at my temples and hope
              secrets I alone remember

will spill out like coins
              from a broken piggy bank.

A Robert Motherwell Serenade

An upside down angel

hurtles through clouds
ruffling November gloom

that looks like you—
layers of holy buoyancy
lost, no illusions left

as protection against ink

that seeps through skin
forever inscribing the name

of someone who smiles
only for photographers
and has colorless irises

even in daydreams.

Noel Sloboda’s work has lately been in *Big Lucks*, *Sentence*, *Redactions*, and *Bayou*. He is the author of the poetry collections *Shell Games* (sunnyoutside, 2008) and *Our Rarer Monsters* (sunnyoutside, 2013) as well as several chapbooks. Sloboda has also published a book about Edith Wharton and Gertrude Stein.