Recent History

—after John Ashbery

The city dealt the peninsula a zoo, widening trails for joggers to get sidetracked.
Clouds of arsenic stacked up at the hips of docks, sifted
into furrows leaching into leeks and parsley.
How is this double-talk, following your margin of error
to hold on to a passing scent on congested walks
where we shuffle to miss each other?
You said lie low; the charges are dialed in and set
for another hope, but about that, all exits remain
locked down from here to the coasts pending the edict
on French fries gets cleared by customs.
One lady’s France is another’s Patagonia.

When the politician arrived I asked about the wrinkles around his eyes and mouth
and whether the smile hurts or is worth the mirror of delight?
From pictures (through acquaintances) he had nothing to hide
and yet who wants to be paired with a Dutch uncle?
Thus we continued cruising for a bruising and setting off bells
with one hailing from the peanut gallery for luck, saying the air is divine.

I’m with you. Not with you. I’ve combed the caves of moss
before being converted to a golf course and remember every place we nested
juggling school and bus rides, leaning and then jaded
as we moved away as the services required moved us.
Now we know each other through these inklings
staining our thoughts with wonder.

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.