Three Poems by Christine Kanownik
Dear neighbor, I want to say this correctly,
you are a fine neighbor, listen to me say, fine
neighbor, we are even pleasant with each other.
Oh neighbor, fine neighbor, say it different,
good neighbor, I presume. Sorry neighbor,
I’ve dedicated myself to the above. Sorry
neighbor, we are finally above ground. It is nice,
this atmosphere. Sorry neighbor, I see
you everywhere, especially at the mouth.
In every sense civic. There is often frivolity
in the face and thigh, but today we wore
our badges of pride. We are proud of this space,
neighbor, aren’t we? We know this.
Likening myself to you FACT to eruption
to the noises made inside of rock. I’m quietly
tearing apart. Doesn’t that make sense? I am erupting.
How can I be silent? I didn’t say silent.
The silence is all. I couldn’t
stay silent. It is like you were saying about
the moths: No one wants to hear about them.
Even if we were all so afraid
and far away. I would make a list
of things that didn’t last. I’m afraid of
tonight. I’m afraid by the time it is tonight
be the same. I’m afraid that it is tonight already.
Why didn’t sorrow tell me? Listen.
For once. I am the sorrow swelling up
inside you. I am your own sorrow.
Listen. I’ve told you all you
need to know. The night has come and dark
is dark. Come leave your home. Leave your home
empty of its inhabitants. Commit every
vicious act and get to truth.
If I were to really understand Newport Beach
I’d be dead by now
If I let myself be captured by the waves and the
tiresome eternity of white linen shorts
I’d have to find a new home and that home
couldn’t be a home I could feel or touch
Now, listen to the source, he says
using his hand to block the sun
from his eyes
He squints at me
but I know I am just a looming dark
silhouette with bright red edges
I don’t listen to the source
I move slightly and he puts his
hand down to his side
Or I’d be lying
I spent a day, thoughtlessly, in the sun
I never once thought about what
it was to be in the sun or what
it is to be the sun
I want to tell you everything I think about you
I want to tell everything that I think
I want to tell every sun-kissed brow, every hole-
in-one, every shark-tooth alleyway, every
Corona Extra with a twist of lime, every
single miserable maraschino cherry in this whole
ridiculous tiki bar that you
are a damned fool
I don’t mean to suggest that the sun is a man
or a woman
I do not mean to gender the mountains
If you were a mountain I would not lay
down a day beside you
The mountain could never be a person I loved
The sun isn’t fire
The sun is not on fire
Christine Kanownik’s poetry can be found in the past or upcoming issues of: Everyday Genius, Lungfull! Magazine, Glitterpony, Shampoo, and H_NGM_N. She’s been resident at the University of Chicago, The Congress Theater, and La Misíon in Baja, California. Her first chapbook, We are Now Beginning to Act Wildly, is forthcoming from Diez Press. She currently lives and works in New York.