Robyn Art
And Then There is New Jersey

shoot at nothing—water, the hills.
—“And Then There is California,” Jennifer L. Knox

There are as many kinds of vanishing as there are
relics from the Nineties (World music; cargo-loading;)
in the virtual time capsule we built as kids
and buried in the sand-choked woods
of our deadbeat shore towns. Yea, we are but brief candles
once you get past the crappy verisimilitude so hells yeah,
let’s get takeout from the corner Wawa,
let the kids troll the perimeter of the roped-off,
lead-poisoned beach where people sit on benches,
smoking, rocking vintage body mod
or walking their pitbulls of a midsummer eve.
There is nostalgia, there is the voice in the wilderness
like a small fire, there is the plum-blossoms-fallingbut-
generally-okay-with-it-feeling of wabi,
and then there is New Jersey: minus a few centering breaths
of that go-with-it feeling, part eternal comeback tour,
part I Endured the Agonies on the Cross and All I Got
Was this Lousy T-Shirt, less velvet rope,
more police tape, half-blotto on the high-octane Cosmos
of a rich friend of friend’s open-bar pool party (fuck yeah!)
the sky still threaded with stars,
the important stuff:
is “Bigly” even a word?
Is there even such a thing as the “opposite of a cheerleader?”
I mean, for real?
Class of ’93
I rocked my Jessica Mclintock

like nobody’s business.

Affected the hair and makeup

of low-level aspiring newscasters.

Exchanged shout-out’s with the rachitic parking lot burnouts

between their stints of gas-huffing

and community service.

Opined nothing of cram schools, the nonfat mayo craze,

the influx of displaced persons trawling the minimalls.

It was an Up-With-People moment

but we were mostly drunk on Listerine and Enya,

that decade pre-sedation dentistry

and the widespread acceptance of neck tattoos.

We had few relations with the future,

that malarial swamp,

or with that woman, Monica Lewinsky.

We were the blackbird chillaxin’

and the moment just before.

Everything that would happen

wasn’t happening yet.
The Thing About Flight
Although the hummingbird can fly up to 50 mph without
crashing into stuff and certain frigate species can fly
while their brains are half-asleep the human, like the sun,
can go only so long without falling in
on itself—part purgatory, part theme park,
sometimes it’s enough to stroll the verdant copse without
encountering some imploring figure or other,
the sunset a mass of welts, a sky jettisoned
of cloud. Things explode for a reason:
meteorites, those sub-lunary has-been’s;
the body’s wish-list of priors. Hit the rewind
on the body cam, point to the appropriate face
on the pain chart, record next to each letter what
you think the mystery powder is.
Dilapidated tonnage of some vision,
some whorl, O beautiful hellacious,
make of me a vessel.
The Opposite of Cheerleader
Another fall, another hurricane alert.
Five years have past; five summers, with the length of five long winters!
(The best part: visions. The worst: blood loss.)
The past like a pair of custom wrestling tights
cut away with the trauma sheers,
like regret, dopey and totemic,
the hushed and monophonic wind,
(The President isn’t a cheerleader, he’s the opposite of a cheerleader!)
like history—bifurcated, thorny,
part Anti-Bias Dialogue, part Micro-Affirmation,
your version, my version,
And the tide rises, the tide falls.