The bad little brother of the Aurorean

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[one_half last=”no” class=”” id=””]Chad Prevost[/one_half]

[one_half last=”yes” class=”” id=””]FALL 2016[/one_half]

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What Our Hands Have Done

Because these words are only a form of touch
if you were lonely or just listening
you would become fluent in their ten foreign tongues.

Even when I hold my hands over my ears
someone or something is leaning close to me now
trying to tell me the one true story.

Do you remember an impossible city?
Rain ringing like teeth into the beggar’s tin,
honey oozing from the rotted lion?

The job is over. We stand under the trees
waiting to be told what to do.
Women sprinkle holy water on the sidewalk.

Past the guarded schoolhouses, the boarded-up churches,
swatsikaed synagogues, and down the road finally toward
a happy life, or when that life’s sped past,

like stones the moment after a wind blows over.
Say hallelujah, say goodnight, say it over my body.
What can the sun do but keep shining?

I remember when Jesus died the trees
bent and groaned, there was a strong wind
and they, catching the spirit, came home with us.

When I look at you I forget everything.
Some bust of an angel points its outraged and comical finger
toward sunset where the river widened.

He feels the world will one day absolve him.
After all this love, after the birds rip like scissors,
the long dead months before the appalling blossoms

and some blow-dried moron blabs the bald lies.
With such Sistine eminence, drape them over my body.
From what our hands have done we shall live another year here.

 

Passengers

I remember what the world was like before
I tired of praising the dead.

Through bare rooms, over my head
his coffin rocking into the ground
like a boat or a cradle,

I am reminded. I shall die one day
on a mournful autumn twilight.

But for personal myth—the ego basement—
we’re going postal, it’s cool
to lose control. I drive by

a hand-painted sign. Parents shimmer
inside our strides and bones.

For all the world it looks like he’s
attained annihilation.

All at once everyone in the room says,
you better bring the house lights up.

Who is this—throwing things around
with impunity, paying no damages?

I heard the passengers leaving the train,
the train past streaming pastures

the way the mind moves back
from contemplation
with the beauty of apple blossoms.

 

The Quiet Limit

“There is no place to turn,” she said.
Was it the rain, was it the ontology of morning?

We are both praying
and not of gold or strange stone,
but the true.

Here at the quiet limit of the world
again last night,
my neighbor’s blue hound.

Witness this morning’s bathroom mirror.
Clothes, over a chair.

Let me list the tricks to avoid.

He stood at the pulpit of his doubt
and enunciated for all,
there was no longer any need for the world

to be divided. Love turns
into a beetle in the end. You have
the arthritic postures of the apple tree.

And since you talk as if
you’re all these things
you could say that the ocean broke through

and what was the snow
that has no name is just
in the mud, in the night, in Mississippi Delta roads.

Each spring the long-nosed god
of rain. But why
does no one say its name out loud?

 

Fingernail

A miraculous thing just happened.

Another eye is looking back at me
in the center of my lid. The sunken heart
was hauled up, nearly
breaking. Keep your imagination peeled and see.
What good are family trees?

What point is there in being valued
when on the orchard of the sea, far out
are whitecaps? There’s a curve
in the road, and a slow curve
in the river but it will never feel like home.

One half our lives is complete
and as I cross my kitchen floor
the thought of Death returns.

Most afternoons the moon pirouettes above us.
Right now, someone robs a convenience store.
Someone pumps a fist above water.

A sturgeon whips its tail in the shade.
I feel everything all at once.
Only you alone can place your tongue
like a red arrow and the light comes back.

From the wetlands to the growers’ vines
each indigo egg, smaller
than a fingernail. Children wish for
angels and dream of war.

Not history, not the past.
Your future guns his engine at the door.

 

Notes on the cento:

A cento borrows lines and phrases from a variety of sources to create a poetic collage in a new form and order, and therefore with new breadth and meaning. A true cento only uses lines from others and does not include one’s own lines. “What Our Hands Have Done” contains fragments first imagined and articulated by the following authors: Kurt Brown, Horace, Rainer Maria Rilke, Richard Siken, Cesar Vallejo, R.S. Gwynn, Ralph Tejeda Wilson, Nicole Cooley, Marie Howe, Gaylord Brewer, Larry Levis, Sharon Olds, Thomas Lux, John Ashberry, Philip Levine, Stuart Dischell, Jason Koo, Richard Jackson, Bill Rasmovicz, Arthur Smith, Li-Young Lee, Gerald Stern, Charles Wright, Federico Garcia Lorca, Billy Collins, Lucia Perillo, William Carlos Williams, Bob Hicok, Philip Larkin, Denise Levertov, Andrew Hudgins, Marvin Bell, W.H. Auden, W.S. Merwin, Pablo Neruda, Christopher Buckley, Stephen Berg, Louise Gluck, William Matthews, Stephen Dobyns, Jack Gilbert, Terrance Hayes, Pamela Uschuk, Mark Doty, Robert Bly, Charles Bukowski, Fernando Pessoa, Stephen Haven, Ann Fisher-Wirth, Edward Hirsch, Charles Fort, Carolyn Forche, Allen Ginsberg, and Arthur Rimbaud.

Bio

[highlight color=”” rounded=”no” class=”” id=””]Chad Prevost[/highlight]is author of A Frequency for Wherever You Are, Signs as Clues and Sometimes Wonders, The Blue Demon, White-Feathered Bodies, Chasing the Gods, and Greatest Hits. A Ph.D. in creative writing from Georgia State, he has led workshops and panels at places like Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP), Baylor University’s Art and Soul Conference, Austin College, Clemson University, the Yale Writers’ Conference, the Meacham Writers’ Workshop, Lost in the Letters Festival, and for The Southern Collective Experience. His writing has been in print in places such as American Poetry Journal, Huffington Post, Matter: A Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, North American Review, Prairie Schooner, The Seattle Review, Sentence, The Southern Review and The Washington Post. Chad lives in Chattanooga with his wife and their three children. Hanging Chad, the blog, can be found at chadprevost.com.