Mark Dow
Four Conversation Poems

I got a text that said
my godmother had died
and also my godfather's
godmother's daughter died,
so I just took the train
to Union Station and got
a cab to Arlington where
their church is but no one
was around, so I said
let me just look at that
text again and it said
December 4th. I was a week
early. I'm literally standing
on line at Union Station now
waiting for them to open up
to let us on the train. Yeah,
yesterday. I'm headed back.
But hey, I did some touristing.
Walked the whole length of
the mall, which is a lot bigger
than it is on TV. Did all
the monuments, the main ones
anyway, Washington Monument,
Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson,
Martin Luther King, went
to the Pentagon and then
to Crystal City out there,
where there's a mall out there,
a shopping mall, and I found
the exact watchband I've been
looking for for forever. So hey,
made lemons out of lemonade. I'll
just come back down next week.

Mark Dow

Total coincidence --
Here we go --
There's no such thing --
I told you so.

Few days ago I see this movie by Les Blank. He did Blazing Saddles, right? That's Mel Blank, moron. Mel Brooks, not Blank. What's up, doc? Doc on the singer Leon Russell. It's thirty years old but just got released. What year is this? A Poem is a Naked Person, but they never explain the title. He's all about that white church sound, right? But was he trying to be black or is that just a Texas thing? He's from Oklahoma. Who? Leon Russell. You know why Texas doesn't fall into the Gulf? Two-thousand fifteen, dumbshit. 'Cause Oklahoma sucks!

Anyway a week before I saw it I read this thing, just came across it on the shelf, this little story where a missionary tells a jungle savage he should cover up his naked self. The savage says but you're uncovered too. The missionary says but that's my face, that's just my face. The savage says but our whole body is a face. The guy who tells the story says the moral of the story's that a poem's all face. What does that even mean? I know, what does that mean?

You guys use Facetime? I hate that shit. It creeps me out. Like it's not quite real. Exactly, right? Who said our truest faces are our driver's license photographs? Remember what that Asian girl said that time you fucked her and she thought you disrespected her on purpose? I forget exactly how. "You want me to lose face." That's it. So sad. Wait, what Asian girl? That was some heavy shit.

I used to know this guy, chemistry geek from Milwaukee, total Packer fanatic, fat slob but sharp as a tack, and we'd get stoned a lot and talk, talk shit, and we'd forget what we were talking about of course. Of course. Forget what we were talking about, so we set up a tape recorder, cassette recorder, to record ourselves when we lost track, but check this out. We set up a second recorder, the master tape. The master's on no matter what. It gets it all, gets all of it. You can hear two of him and two of me. We're listening to ourselves and going "oh, you said that" and "I remember now," but hearing two of each of us and on the master you can hear us laughing with ourselves. I found it, found the tape, a couple months ago. Just totally embarrassing. Un-spooled it and threw it away.

eff ey cee ee

s p e l l s

F   A  C  E

Where do you guys want to eat? I wouldn't mind some decent enchiladas. I'm sick of Mexican food. Tex-Mex or Mexican? Either. Both. Can't we just get some normal food for once? It just now hit me. He made a movie about that blues guitarist from Houston. The one we saw that summer there. He's got that song about the boy who stutters until he sings. That's real. That really is a thing. There was that guy Mel Tillis. And then he didn't like the band and kicked them off the stage. Who? The blues guy. Lightning Hopkins. It's Lightnin'. What? No g: Lightnin'. Kicked them off, one by one. No one knew what was going on. I know the feeling. And then he broke a string and kept on playing anyway.

What festival was that again? Juneteenth. To celebrate that the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed. It took time for the news to get there to the Gulf Coast slaves. Is that what that Stones song's all about? How come you dance so good? How come you taste so good. You're such an asshole. Just ignore him. I really wish I could.

A face expresses what the words the mouth says don't always say. Or says without saying them, or maybe not in words, in other words. Who said that? Each part matters just as much as each part does. As each other part does. There is no other part.

He said, "That's all right. Lightnin' don't need all the strings anyway." In that song the boy keeps stuttering so he says, "If you can't say it--"

Say that again, what you said before, about there is no other part. That's it. There is no other part.

"If you can't say it, just sing." And then that first long note, sustained.

It goes by month
So February
It goes according
I'm March what month
We're close then
Animals each
So you're an ox
I'm on the cusp
The monkey yeah
The ram it goes
An Oriental
A place mat at
That's right there
Where you get off
Sure I've been there
The access road
it goes by year
their new year
to the moon
I'm May are you
they got different
month each year
I'm Aries but
this is the year
so that means you're
by year I have
that restaurant
where you exit
right there where
that exit where
goes by the lake

(near Houston)

The second one winged, it seemed, more for balance than for push when the skiddling toward it steadied from

The first one, fifteen feet away at first and sitting still for several seconds after landing on the same chain-link's upper horizontal before it started toward

The second, which lifted off and up a foot or so to a thin limb with give.

The first stayed still.

The second stayed still, too, although the thin limb swayed with set-down in an arc of exponentially diminishing amplitude.

The first stayed still.

The second went white to a second thin limb above, but not quite as far above, and a foot or two closer to, the first.

The first went up.

The second darted.

The first reversed direction it had come from

Grey into thicker branchings away from.

The second went diagonal away but not all

The way away. Gray-white grey-shadow flap

Flashed something neither one but what.

The first broke cover the second went toward.