Haiku by Matthew Zapruder


Yesterday for you
I wrote a poem so full
of lies it woke me
stunned like someone
bitten in the middle of the night
or a bird that just
smashed into a very clean window.
Now it’s so early
it’s still night
and this time I’m hardly
trying at all, holding carefully
in my palms
the knowledge that
I don’t know anything about you.
And how could you know
mosquitoes love my blood
because it’s full
of something they love,
or that I like to play chess
in the morning
with a serbo-croatic book,
never getting any better?
Or that to drink
seltzer with lemon in the dark
thinking of Isamu Noguchi
calms me, but only sometimes?
How I’m a blue
vial of delusions.
How on my biceps
I have a star that never
aches when I tell the truth.
How I’m always
in love with someone
I’ll never meet (see,
I can’t put three words
together without lying!).
And all the things
about you I don’t know,
which is everything.
Did you never
want to be a dancer?
Were your ankles
too thin, and you didn’t
even know it?
Did you love
or were you afraid
of horses (one threw me
when I was a child)?
Did your mother show you
how to wrap a towel
around your wet hair
like an arab queen,
or did you just know
how to paint your nails and hold
the telephone like that
between your chin
and shoulder?
The color of your eyes.
Do they change
on a bridge?
When you lie?
It feels so good
to be clear, and free,
not like a buddhist
or a haiku but just sort of
dumb, hardly able
in the middle of night
to speak. Only
enough to say
thank you for the cake,
how it came
wrapped in tinfoil,
newborn, almost
as sweet as the thought
of you thinking
a moment of me.
Most things come
by time and circumstance
separated, waiting
to be repaired.
But not that cake
which I ate
quickly, like
it was about to disappear.
Let’s start again.
I don’t think
that’s a bird out there,
it sounds more like
a person trying
to sound like a bird.
Or maybe a bird a person
didn’t mean
but still taught
how to whistle.
You keep sleeping
and I’ll stop trying
to decide if it’s better
to change other people
or how they see us,
or what’s more
urgent and futile,Pajamaist
to unlock
or to invent the past.

by Matthew Zapruder

from his book The Pajamaist published by Copper Canyon Press

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