To Persist | Poems
by Chris Semansky

Attempt #11

In the late Holocene writing changed into something that didn’t do what it used to do, what we thought it did, had done. That is how I started my letter to her. Not a letter, since who writes those anymore? And not exactly “started” since we all enter the garrulous stream Jan-Dec, one breath at a time. Time. One potato, two potato, three potato . . . .  As a reader she lacked the palette for nuance, a marker of self-regard rarely glimpsed by the young flotsam today with their focus on whatnot and so forth.

I intended to offer more and had some-any-thing to say, though statistically speaking I rarely meant half of what tumbled out, at least not by the end of whatever it was I was writing: in this case an unletter.

For the life of me, an odd expression suggesting “despite one’s best efforts,” I could not grasp the idea of binomial nomenclature, or why I soldiered forth, slatting together leaky nouns, barely adverbs, items in a series, until I hit the meaty part, i.e., the post-body paragraphs, i.e., the addendum, i.e., the junky overcarriage that did not require a walker.

This is how time went: bye.

Asset Allocation

He slapped his days, 
stamped his feet, 
pillowed the bed in haste.
It was an unsavory practice, 
a daily practice,
less so now than in the
crenelated past
with its hairy openings,
bags of here and there
weighing down the battlements.
But to persist, now that, 
that was something.
In the end most people cried.
First through tubes, 
and then with their eyes closed,
fingering the switches.

Nothing went to waste.

The Adjustment

A digression here, a pause there, things being
what they are we coast through melancholy 
sets of jokes, French anecdotes
from the Chinese . . .  a stubble of rabble 
conspires to lead us further 
than necessary, than we ever thought possible . . . .
Is that the problem? 
Shut up. You are too. Get the coffee,
I said, please. We called five times between 
six and eight but couldn't bring ourselves 
to speak to that infernal machine, to say
dinner’d be great, green beans and roast? 
Everything’s hard and then you cry: boo hoo.
I am not.

Chris Semansky’s poems, stories, and essays have appeared in literary magazines and journals including College English, New Orleans Review, Poetry New York, Postmodern Culture, Minnesota Review, and Mississippi Review. His collection, Death, But at a Good Price, received the Nicholas Roerich Prize for 1991 and was published by Story Line Press. He teaches in the School of Professional Development for SUNY-Stony Brook.

N.B. Mudlark published André Breton Works the Crisis Prevention Hotline, twenty-four poems by Chris Semansky, as Chap No. 20 (2002).

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