:: back to index
   :: mirror northwest

Jean-Paul Pecqueur print this page

The trouble with beginning a poem
language is a glorious word
is not that the downtown retail garages
close at exactly five p.m., or that the cars,
once rudely refused, will hurl their drivers
like old LPs across the long bridges
of an original city. The trouble
with beginning a poem language
is that there is no trouble,
unless the abrupt shift from one opening
to another, like worm-holes in the shower
or tectonic plates in bed,
causes a flash, pin-prick of star
in the head. You could be with a friend
eating french-fries at the old oak bar
but elsewhere there are fishermen
moored behind a failing sea-wall
off the coast of an alien island.
They are mending their torn nets. Being human
they must, as we say, work for a living.
The sea surges in. Rocks fall.
The sea surges out.


The man in apartment 3D owns a hamster
which thinks itself a squirrel. The man
thinks of himself first as a pianist. Of course
the harpsichord thinks differently, as do Sundays
trimmed with those heavy metronomic plinkings.
From time to time Bud reproduces documents
to make us think he is an emissary from Canada.
Everyone loves the Canadians: The Canadians
are so civilized; So comely. Think of Ottawa,
we say, where if a critical mistake is made,
the ministers file it under pitfall and slip off
to buy creamy boysenberry milkshakes. I too love
a creamy boysenberry milkshake, but one Friday
last week someone threw a switch in Bud’s foyer.
The additional weight upset the sacramental Koi
which sank like garish medallions in the clawfoot tub.
Never was seen such a thrashing before. At this
the hamster became uneasy. He thought
he knew what would happen next. Another sign.
The man had renamed his utopia Catskill,
which he pronounced as though he really had spent
the better part of his youth overseas. Overseas,
ah! that lovely country where one often witnesses
wee critters moved about as if they were counters
in some limitless game, sort of like the way
we used to play, during love, with the first third
of the official version of the standard,
western metaphysical lexicon: Being / Non-Being.

First Published in Sonora Review. Jean-Paul Pecqueur has worked as a chicken catcher, fish canner, garment worker, furniture mover, dish busser and substitute teacher. He has also taught poetry workshops at the University of Washington and the University of Arizona’s Poetry Center. He currently lives in Tucson, Arizona, where he teaches and watches the birds and occasionally people.