“We Might Have Existed” By Brian Chander Wiora

 

 

We Might Have Existed

It’s the future, where America falls
into book after book, each page laced
with a blue truth, like bubbles in an aquarium. 
The seahorses galloping past their hooves. 

When the pilgrims arrived, some had been here
before. From this, a whole country can be discovered. 
You need the sun to have rivers of sunlight. 
You need a river to have Columbus.

In the summer when I turned seventy-five, 
I bought ten thousand shovels, combing ten thousand 
heads of hair, in the parlor with a line out the door. 
Let me say: it was not a museum but a room

with every outfit we wore in that American time. 
How the red dress fell all night. How often 
did I fly to California, just to watch the birds 
eating eggs off my plate, a strange reincarnation. 

Touring the earth’s edge, I notice a nickel 
rolling over the horizon, Jefferson’s face facing 
the mountains in the south. Geography: 
as in the place where toy fish flap plastic fins,

those feral machines. The Americans are watching 
television again. We watch because the television 
is yellow. We watch because we know no 
good songs. The music happens, but not enough

for the noise to become more than an echo, 
the way a shadow falls behind us and is soon forgotten
by everyone but the lightbulbs, just Tesla
between Edison and a fetish for light. 

What happens in the aftermath of roses, America?
You are infamous for your boredom now. Someone there 
is a father, if not fatherhood. Someone else is desperate. 
And I am like the world. I can close my eyes, and spin.

 

About the Author: Brian Chander Wiora teaches poetry at Columbia University, where he is an MFA candidate. His poems have appeared in RattleGulf Stream MagazineThe New Mexico ReviewAlexandria Quarterly and other places. Besides poetry, he enjoys listening to classic rock music and performing stand up comedy.

 

More by Brian Chander Wiora:

“The Oysters”

 

Image Credit: Walker Evans “Highway Corner, Reedsville, West Virginia” (1935) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

“The Oysters” By Brian Chander Wiora

 

 

The Oysters

The better oysters on this plate are smoked, 
then dried, the abundant bivalves brought
from dugout canoes. We sit by the only window
lessened by blue curtains, never loosened. 

The shadow of the cubicle, you say, 
was too always for you, as if the sun
pushed itself away. On your long walks home, 
you would step through people’s breaths

just to feel the heat. An occasional candle
decorates each table. A small vase contains
a smaller flower, its yellow wilting. 
If only the oysters could shell you inside,

shield you from horse drawn ice plow, 
Hudson Iron, anthracite coal. 
Watch hemlock brick tan into leather, 
quite accidentally, just as it happens. 

This restaurant is crowded, therefore endless. 
Each table is its own bottomless moment.
We speak as though the long ago 
occurred yesterday, as if it became

pregnant with every imagined memory
of us. In May, when the mollusks harvest, 
when we would have cut our own hair 
and revel in its distance. The waves roll over

soil erosion, raw sewage, the resistance
of living from being alive. 
“The ravages of the axe are daily increasing”
said Thomas Cole, but he forgot about how

we open each oyster with our tiny utensils, 
bringing forth a single bite. Hunger is so vigilant. 
Find a bowl that’s not filled up, 
as in this room of which a later room

might be formed, as in a catch of oysters
lost in their own banks, bartered
for trade, their shells carved for knives. 
If we look quickly, they will be moving.

 

About the Author: Brian Chander Wiora teaches poetry at Columbia University, where he is an MFA candidate. His poems have appeared in RattleGulf Stream MagazineThe New Mexico ReviewAlexandria Quarterly and other places. Besides poetry, he enjoys listening to classic rock music and performing stand up comedy.

 

Image Credit: Édouard Manet “Oysters” (1862)