An international online magazine that publishes Surrealist poetry in English.
Mezcal and Skapte Hyle for Phineas Gage
[T]he case which more than all others is calculated to excite our wonder,
impair the value of prognosis, and even to subvert our physiological doctrines...
—James Henry Pooley, from various medical and surgical journals (1851)
Your tamping iron of poor breeding,
Spirited away to ask, What is a man?,
And hastily report back, in open
Displeasure, a ghastly joke; it took
You to indirectly indicate nothing out
Of something, to figure out what fixed
A personality's rhyme scheme, or if
A nervo-bilious temperament had
Had a bad dad. The welcomed misery
Of self-reflection added to itself
Through you, a breathing thing, to
Drive our homeless hours through
Tobacco, lavender and coffee. Sun-
Light loved you better in past tense,
And time paused before it passed
Tents refusing you, refusing to be
Awed by concrete light, contesting
Every point you make, born stubborn
Like a temporary shrine. Shaping air
Into ideal disputes is what you do do.
Backward fish of outer reaches,
contemplating air; reacting to
destiny's immersion in your aches:
you're not my problem. A grungy
sky attacks suburban difficulties?
The grainy aftermaths of noon?
Pour me Kentucky bourbon. Pour
another dead person's name,
playing hooky, buried in Pilot
Knob. The sun's scurrilous
on boiling waves, but cichlids
make nice with squirrels then.
Like ads for more life, the good
master adds depth above the
surface. Winnowing semblances
of minnows emanate below.
Jake Sheff is a pediatrician and veteran of the US Air Force living in Oregon. His poems and short stories have been published widely. His chapbook is Looting Versailles (Alabaster Leaves Publishing). A full-length collection of formal poetry, A Kiss to Betray the Universe, is available from White Violet Press.