Self Portrait as Unicorn
I am March, the largest garden,
am May yammering gently,
am lean against & flattened-out house,
am worth thirst already literal syllable
mistly twisting ostracized light.
Dead dear, your small vessels sewn
under heart, am damn sure of cadaver,
am Samuel in Israel, Saul’s shall’s prevail,
am Lord & serve Him.
Am another renegade born again
near righteous synagogue.
Am nocturnal laying down
in order of fallen others.
Behold & obey, move & veer,
Am hieroglyph fuming morgue,
some dome & meek call.
Am late tales & somehow wonder.
Am fused blue in yearly lingering
as pasture reptile, carnivorous ragweed,
during disease season.
Am mourning any longer.
Am last amaranth in amaranth field.
Dancing Alone in Your Apartment
and listening to Maroon Five
on my quiet headphones. It would be
such a unicorn thing, if you weren’t
asleep in the middle of the afternoon,
closed door and hungover.
That’s the most unicorn thing to do.
Instead, I slide on your faux wood
like a bowling ball without a pin in sight.
I strike a pose in the window, flip
my hair, which I haven’t cut this year.
Various strands fall on my shoulder,
dandruff and lint. The song ends
as I begin again, sweeping the floor dust
with my once-white socks. Van Morrison.
Harry Nilsson. The afternoon moves
like a setlist. But here, now, the radiator
applauds my twists around the kitchen table
with its crisp claps. I feel embryonic, ready
for the night to begin our together, again.
I am taken by my imagination
to the long black drapes in the ballroom
where our feet would mingle with the rhythm
as if they were the same. We’d drink champagne
on the promenade and sing our own versions
of songs they’d never play here. I am returned
to your apartment. It has started to snow.
I hear your body move through your room.
The horses must have brought you back.
Self Portrait as Someone Else
Everything so eats at my soul.
In my pockets, I find two right-handed gloves.
Therefore, I must be merely what the world demands of me,
someone else all of the time.
It has been that way forever, since before I existed.
When I’m with you, say in the garden
with a shovel full of turnips,
I want to say that you are there with so many other people.
You are with the me who wears glasses without prescriptions,
for entirely aesthetic reasons.
The me squishing ants under my thumb.
The me inside the large chimney who smokes in the firebox
and coughs up the flume.
The me with my ear to the wall,
listening to the neighbors play piano again.
The me with a unicorn in my lungs.
The me ordering chicken shawarma at an Italian restaurant.
The me and the 15% tip.
The me standing under awnings in the rain.
The ukulele me.
The holes dug in 1894 that reincarnate me.
The me as a lockbox with a pair of broken keys.
The gaggle of geese that makes a gremlin of me.
The odor of me.
The grown out my hair past where it’s ever been.
The me who will become me in twenty years.
The walk around the block.
The talking to a silent lamp in the dark.
The me who will cry just to say I listened (that’s the me you know best).
And now I know how you feel when you put your foot
between the carpet and floorboard and step up and down
and down down down.
This is called empathy, and it exists
in the way we search for your missing hairbrush,
not how we found it in our hair.
Brian Chander Wiora is a Creative Writing Teaching Fellow at Columbia University, where he teaches poetry. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The American Literary Review, Rattle, The Florida Review, Gulf Stream Magazine, and other places. Besides poetry, he enjoys listening to classic rock music, performing standup comedy, and traveling.
Image: “American Beauty” by Matthew Klein
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