Mabuse’s Afternoon

—after John Ashbery

As long as the soft touch of the Pacific bellies up tufts on yonder cliffs
and the Philippine plate rumbles skyward he says he’ll take the family out
of familiar as boarding schools and long commutes
left only tablet time aboard tour buses bounding inland—
caves to native hunting grounds, ravines
following erosion to the source: long forgotten dams
for losing ourselves (readers, beware) swimming
only in shallows, letting the stand of firs stand up
in the imagination from a clumps preserved on higher ground
after being viewed mowed down by water speculators.
They exist only as paper and shrines in the north and derivatives.
Where some see art in just moving others saw freedom
fracking long before roboticization raised the bar on plutocracy.

I used to turn to you craving relief from the black & white
as a Dachshund turns in the owner of a hungry cow by mooing,
taking the initiative, a gesture to the alfalfa shortage
and tansy epidemic that is no one’s concern. Hey, my uncle
has some bales in the barn attic. Let me drop them a line
before you change the subject back to something
between being buddies and taking time-cards for das Ding an sich.
Now I wonder. Is buoyancy feasible today? Sure your system works
wonders, tinkered balance, ace in the hole.

Dean A. Brink’s poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including the Columbia Poetry Review, Crab Creek Review, Exquisite Corpse, Going Down Swinging, Tinfish, and the anthology In Protest: 150 Poems for Human Rights. Originally from Tacoma, Washington, he is an associate professor in the English Literature Department, Tamkang University, Taiwan. He also writes and publishes poetry in Japanese while researching postcolonial Japanese poetry groups in Taiwan. Other interests include gender studies, ecocriticism, and atonal piano composition.