7.03 / March 2012

Six Poems

Napoleon Refines His Palate in Purgatory

Some scallops have smooth shells:
others have ribs that radiate

from their hinges. According
to genus, they may be

red, orange, yellow, black,
or white. I stir the wehani

rice in its banged-up pot,
tear radicchio from its core.

I call for caraway seeds.
While you dine in seas

of mirin and cream
I eat dust and chokeberries.

I know no other lover.
Aphrodite would be pleased.

Napoleon Contemplates His 401k with a Banker from Goldman and Sachs

The view from this tower is all
effluvium and waste. And you
in your Brooks Brothers suit,
narrowed eyes and pursed lips:
I do not intend to begin a family.
I wish to leave my fortune to the
as-yet-unborn, conjure up a pony
on a glittering chain. For my next
birthday party I want everyone
dressed as if for masquerade.
When I am old enough to enjoy piles
of accumulated wealth I will be a bag
of clanking bones, an emerald the size
of a tumor on my conquering hand.
All hail my liquidity, an ampersand.

Napoleon Sings Along to Aqualung

I have not been in rehab
or prison or a kibbutz.
I am invisible to birds.
I want only something
strange and beautiful:
a heart splayed by a
knife, a kiddie pool
filled with bubbles,
odor of conifers
in a great room
occupied by you,
your pinkish hair,
and your 10,000
foot bridal train.

Napoleon Attempts a Heroic Couplet

It’s no use. The starry flock has come and gone.
In its place, tractor-trailers, the ever-dying dawn.

Mise en garde: a lone red crayon,
a demented plastic cup.

A stranger on the verandah,
corsage in shaking hand.

All my skills, I’m learning,
in hell, are secretarial.

I am gloaming in a sea of pain-killers,
bent awkwardly, like a suitor, at the knee.

I await your wide white sash,
classical sign of clemency.

Napoleon Contemplates the Objective Correlative

Wheelbarrows carted much of it away.
What remains is an inverted chandelier,
a sole plate of chicken cacciatore.
Beside it, a fork and folded napkin.
The accountant and the bookkeeper
are one. The aviary and the apiary
are one. I am lost in the sanctuary
beside the blue-veined urn, feeling
thoughts I have never felt before.
It is midnight, has been, will be.
I am awake among a sea of meek
orchids, opening their shock-white
throats to the world in all weather,
as if to divert, no, spurn, catastrophe.

Napoleon Peers Through Brunelleschi’s Box

Do not mourn the peripheral field.
Insight is obtained by repression

of the lateral movements
of the tire-swing swinging

from the tree. What you will
receive in exchange: pinhole view

of the cathedral’s main entrance.
Goodbye childhood. Goodbye

competing spaceship trilogies.
What is promised: Res Extensa,

the actual world! Like a father
pacing a maternity ward,

I eye the omega point,
dried paint of apogee.

A PhD candidate in the Program for Writers at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Virginia Konchan’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Best New Poets 2011, Boston Review, the Believer, The New Republic,Michigan Quarterly Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, and Jacket, among other places. She lives in Chicago, where she co-curates the Wit Rabbit Reading Series.
7.03 / March 2012