small textlarge text

Michael Bagwell

Poem to Make You Levitate

Download MP3

It’s little things that let the dead know it’s okay,
we are doing fine.
The rain. Trees at night.
Twenty-thousand-and-five-hundred genes.

Clouds are eating us from the inside,
meet in dark taverns with bouquets of dried roses
and no silverware, just talons.

Are you happy, friend? How far can you drive
with the bird’s head
stuck through the windshield?

Only the air can be violent and mean it.
It gestures with its hands
and means to say distance or fragility

and we are all giving birth, or are birthed,
into the devouring devoured.

Hello, we are a kind of defibrillator

that opens for you, you milk-stars,
you heap of atoms. At least be grateful.
Darkness turns on and then goes off.

Windows are broken in this room and the green
tablecloth has become indiscernible from earth.
The talons are still here. And the dead.

The Manipulation of Air

Download MP3

There is a certain likelihood that I’m still alive.
If so, I must be deeply suffering from an affliction
of hands—what one might call
a parasitic attachment to wrists.

When I inhale, the sky comes closer
and threatens to drown me in its birds.
When I exhale, I say things like “crevasse”
but mean “camouflage” or “it hurts, good god it hurts.”

There is some likelihood that I’m a human being
and may thus determine myself to be an area of space
in which mistakes are inevitable
and light is resisted if not tortured.
Or is that just what the hands want me to think?

This poem is designed to be consumed by humans,
to have its letters let loose like frightened birds,
each grasping a piece of my absence in their beaks.

When I inhale, I pull the sky towards me
and let it rest on the faces I no longer recognize.
When I exhale, I say things like “it’s great to see you”
but mean “heart” or “here, take this, I made it for you.”

You’ve Been Practicing for this All Your Life

Download MP3

What I built did what could have been done
with a paper bag, but I did it with toothpicks
and the sinew of a raccoon.

There is no ocean, but that isn’t your fault.
You just like the letter o.
What you call fish are really cells and what
you call history is really a room with a dog in it
and a ticket to a show you missed.

The heart is the problem, always.
Only now do we know that God
keeps a list in his breast pocket
of all the interconnections between armor and amour.
Write your name on a piece of paper and drink it
with soda water and lime. This will mimic the effects.

You can’t begin to guess the things I’ve done
in front of the mirror. I tried on my new jacket
while making myself big for coyotes or bears.
I practiced my Stonehenge face as if standing
300 yards away.

You may feel alone, but this is rarely the case.
Next to you is a machine
made out of toothpicks and sinew.
You will know what to do.

➥ Bio