This is not Christopher Louvet.

I write poems; these have been published

I design, edit, and publish Floating Wolf Quarterly

I work at E&E Publishing, LLC

Brief words, occasional pictures

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Poems

Saving Daylight in the Anthropocene

The puddle in the garage
spreads below and before parked cars like a sea
 
glaciered from mountains,
draining. Mockingbirds and grackles
 
imitate and screech in yaupon holly.
Sparrows quip flits to and from the damp sidewalk.
 
This morning, an entire hour has been lost,
sprinklers kicking away in a downpour,
 
an airplane returning from the islands
propellering day and night
 
with one long, studious yowl.
I am hungry, and my empty jar is overflowing.
 
We work because we don’t know what else to
do—we don’t even know how we know to.

"Saving Daylight in the Anthropocene" appeared in Jai-Alai Magazine.


Two Cy Twomblys

I. Untitled (Bolsena), 1969
 
Mostly industrial paint on canvas,
it does not describe the background's retreat
from numbers inscribed in blue and red crayon
or graphite's linear insistence on canvas.
The squares, filled or empty, smudged and swiped,
lack the dignity of archived insects
and offer no suggestion of consequence
or history's tragicomic swipes.
 
But it does have the look of sand after a storm,
calm after the wind's bullwhippings, fragged
with litter and seaweed and still resistant,
before the digger bees dig in, before ant tunnels
open with minor cave-ins and broken scuttles,
when a hermit crab's cartographic, seizured path
—from here to there, from there to there—
forgives its borders like a forgotten city,
when sounds return to the bodies that make them
and the sea repeats the simple statement: I am
the clock of broken cogs and loosened springs.
 
The numbers never tire of being counted,
persisting where the background loses interest.
The lines would seem to prefer a different math,
one more gestured, if they were counted.
Like the incumbent swells of the sea
on days when the moon is right, it is . . .
it is spare in intentions, optimistically obtuse,
and it holds a gaze well. Do you not hear the sea?
 
 
II. Untitled, 1972
 
NEVER BE THE SAME capsizes the canvas
from the lower right, though WILL retreats
behind paint unskillfully palming the crayon—
or is the medium there pencil? The canvas,
largely garrotted by cerulean and white swipes,
engages other colors like an intruding insect—
burnt siena, yellows of slight consequence
on chromium green—splattered with a swipe.
 
Expect more than obliquery. THE SECRETS
THAT FALL, written on the picture, cannot
translate other charcoaled words as modest
as an evening in, windows open, the blinds
pulled halfway up and turned down, thunder
elsewhere telling there'll likely be rain soon—
the division of here by there, as eager to please
as discalced heretics, on pilgrimage to nowhere
—and then the wind, overcharged, orchestrates
like an idle day the coming storm smell, drops
already, too intimately, spattering the sills.
 
It's important not to focus on what can be counted:
various straight lines, handwriting's implicit interest
over what seems an indifferent yet calculated math.
Few things deceive better than what can be counted.
Variegated tones of blue lend it a look of the sea,
but a single wave in the midst of its collapse is
hardly something to discount or label obtuse—
Take it away, and what would become of the sea?

Cy Twombly: 04.25.1928 - 07.05.2011. "Two Cy Twomblys" was included in the 10th anniversary edition of Tigertail: A South Florida Poetry Annual.


Open the Window to Hear the Ocean

Open the window to hear the ocean.
It’s an om, or noise, the internet’s pulse,
mathematically unpredictable, fractal
as creases in the leather sofa’s creases,
empty as burgundy. Open your window
and listen: A string section in a Bach suite;
a slowed down punk rock drum rhythm,
practically suspended; sound of light
against shadow, there, by the kitchen,
where the wall meets the mirror seeing
another wall opposite. The computer screen
thrumming, the lightbulbs whinnying.
Some gull clatters a high, chirping whine,
waves coming faster now, or just louder:
So many voices multiplying in each crash
so much you forget even your own name.
 
So much you forget even your own name,
so many voices multiplying in each crash,
waves coming faster now, or just louder:
Some gull clatters a high, chirping whine,
thrumming, the lightbulbs whinnying
another wall opposite, the computer screen,
where the wall meets the mirror seeing
against shadow, there, by the kitchen,
practically suspended, a sound of light,
a slowed down punk rock drum rhythm.
And listen: A string section in a Bach suite,
empty as burgundy. Open your window
like creases in the leather sofa’s creases,
mathematically unpredictable, fractal.
It’s an om, or noise, the internet’s pulse.
Open the window to hear the ocean.

"Open the Window to Hear the Ocean" appeared in the inaugural issue of Exit 7.


Friday Afternoon, 73rd Street

Two days into autumn, summer rains seem coy
advertisements of something bristling, finally come
in dark slate streaks against the windows, the streets,
and it’s impossible to do much about anything now,
as if you’re stranded, parked at a bus stop, waiting
for the tow, while transmission fluid, nigh arterial,
blots oily into puddles collected along the curb
its maroon sheen like an obstinate argument
about how, again, it’ll be raining in ten minutes.
One eye on thunderheads east, one eye on the car,
and one ear to your phone while you talk to AAA
and try to figure out what street you’re actually on,
the whole world tries to determine your damage,
to the car, to the car, of course, as the waves slam
the beach in the incessant wind, eroding everything.
Buses stop and lower in annoyed, hydraulic sighs,
each passenger descending with a look like glass,
and before the salon, two women step out to smoke,
looking at you and through with their quick syllables.
One of them checks her button fly, and you wonder
about your zipper, knowing already it’s sealed up,
yet you check it to be sure. It is so hard to be sure.
Consider the clouds: They grimace and they spore,
and that one, to the south, is crooning into space
some song you recognize, loud enough to touch,
or the sarcasm you just offered to yourself about
how cars break in places lacking underwater trains,
maybe even calculations of cost you run again
and again in your head, all the exponential tables,
what, if it’s really bad, will win, and what will lose
in the coming months, how all your plans are dying.
Ignition is awful when you can’t shift into reverse,
when you can’t, despite your attempts, even refuse.

"Friday Afternoon, 73rd Street" appeared in the inaugural issue of Exit 7.


A Partial Taxonomy of Waves

Waves that prostrate themselves to the sand; waves, green-winged and foamless, arching like dogfighting swallows; moonless waves that engage stars in a game of mirrors; waves that can only lean toward the sun and purr, like Venus flytraps; waves that don't look back, messengers for undertows; waves that solve the riddles of the earth's elliptical calculus; under certain circumstances, waves stealing children from incomplete sandcastles to deliver them, unmolested, like milkmen; uxorious waves; brackish waves, found gathered around mangroves, plotting or having tea; waves that worship the osprey as their queen; waves that spill like a dropped glass of Margaux, long-legged and furious; sunburned waves that blister with foam and desire for shade; clear, pink-tinged waves, favorite of the Portuguese Man O' War; black waves lulled to sleep to wake, years later, unable to recollect their dreams; on cloudless days, red waves in all their glory; waves of the cricket song, minor but pervasive; mathematician waves, backs broken over the golden section of a conch, measuring with a compass, threatening unspeakable violence; waves with mullet slaloming rolls of foam like silver dollars spilling from a thief's bag; waves that go; waves of the shark, diamond-sharp, that warm your toes; despite their loyalty, waves that gleefully abandon themselves to treasonous pleasures; repenting waves that tell no one; boiling waves and their preposterously slow ascension; waves that bemoan their inevitable progression; Klein blue waves scripted by lines of ruby seaweed, cavorting electrically; waves slapping the sides of ferries; waves of cold currents along the under-faces of cracked seashells; waves that prefer to be spectators; waves of gold and smoke.

"A Partial Taxonomy of Waves" was published in the Florida Flash edition of Tigertail: A South Florida Poetry Annual. I read the poem for WLRN, but apparently the recording has gone missing from the interwebs.


A Reason to Leave Florida for Maine

Sea-grapes sloth in sun coursing
on noon, mid-morning’s furnace
assembling humid ambitions.
To the west, clouds in earnest
 
call up reservists. No drills today,
the real thing late this afternoon,
a slow-grilled beachhead foray.
Summer cicadas cluck and croon
 
special ciphers of secret services,
and north and south, traffic gutters
along avenues periodically coerced
into clogs of idle-engine mutters.
 
All this is visible from the balcony,
like my neighbor’s mango tree
and its hanging, swollen fruit,
each capacious as a mandrake root,
 
like weekenders waiting to cross
the street and file into the park
to forget, to barbecue the losses
of the week and anoint the sparks,
 
to toast new nostalgia and more.
When it’s over droves of ibis
will scavenge the garbage stored
in the cans or littering the grass;
 
the weather will be a non sequitur,
a reason to leave Florida for Maine,
and the moon will wax another lane
waves score awfully into the shore.

"A Reason to Leave Florida for Maine" was first published in The International Literary Quarterly.


Across the Avenue

Ants have built their cities in the vacant lot
where an old motel used to be.
 
The tall grass shimmies like sardines.
Burned and broken bricks lie
 
amid shards of glass and refrain from discussion
while household objects, charred and familiar,
 
dispassionately observe passing cars.
Like discarded toys, they look where they must.
 
A shadeless lamp with a futile wire,
a folding chair and a dial-less rotary phone,
 
receiver unhooked, angled up—
all of these survived the fire.
 
Most evenings there is static, as of snow,
from carmine and gold brindled clouds
 
emboldened as rams before clashing horns—
they ascend in spare arpeggios
 
and green the sea with shadows—
but tonight power lines pulse with gossip
 
while the city fence whistles the wind through
missing teeth, and the tall grass bends like truth
 
to a lie that smells of seaweed-tarnished sand.
One by one, the ants return to their homes.
 
Listen: the sound of the telephone, calling,
though it's not sure who, or why.

"Across the Avenue" was first published in The International Literary Quarterly.


The light at weekend's end is better

Less like a roadblock,
more like spilled mercury, of the eel and the harp—
 
orchids sharpen their tongues in the trees,
 
trellised morning glories
glorify every shadow's event horizon,
 
and yesterday's early afternoon showers,
 
cool evening and cooler night,
long-sleeved chills bright and forthcoming as headlights,
 
nightmare thunderclaps,
 
flashes of sudden jazz—
like finicky, icthymaniac gulls eye-plunging
 
through admirable loops to beak sardines—
 
distance themselves in the evening's
widening shadows. The television is on,
 
and soon I'll draw the shades.
 
The grass will continue to infiltrate the coral path
even in this moment of apparent abeyance,
 
and what passes will have passed
 
like baby teeth to toothless grins,
from delinquents to wild, invalid pensioners hanging on.
 
The light at weekend's end is always better.

"The light at weekend's end is better" was first published in The International Literary Quarterly.


Oceanview

I was myself and the window as one—
the impalpable and all that I could see:
a parking lot at night, moth-white lamplight
on mulched medians of seaside primrose
and cordgrass stabbed by Spanish bayonets,
on a red SUV in which a man and a woman
chased cocaine with curt draughts of vodka,
smoothed their reflections in the rearview mirror,
then met a crowd swelling the lot's south end—
a late summer beach party crossing the avenue
through traffic gaps to the park, laughing chatter
scored by a few car stereos' augmented thumping
and voices proclaiming in wordy pizzicato.
I was the moon waning in a sickle earth-shadow,
glinting in each blue-red-silver beer can spilled out
a toppled cardboard box, popped-open mouths
absorbing, like the asphalt, whole horizons.
Quarter meters, obliging chaperones, inactive then,
the air marched with an odor of thunderstorms
from offshore or west over swamps of sawgrass,
clouds like conspiring mangroves, city-lit amethyst,
shuffling almost meaningfully overhead and past.
All night, thorny as an artichoke outside and in,
I was the room and its white walls bent blue
by the computer running in its sleep, humming
dimly a light that cast everything electrically:
The Lazy Boy upholstered in sage corduroy ridges,
a plain floor lamp, its beige shade, bookshelves;
across the room, the closet's washboard door
and a spruce guitar, recently restrung, glossing
nothing it knew to play, nothing to fret about;
the rosewood desk, its floating top occupied
by keyboard, mouse, monitor, and a phone
wired to another city through strict protocols
adept at disassembling and encrypting data.
Many cords snaked round to a surge protector,
a tangle Tiresias would've stopped to sneer at,
and the walnut chair from Siler City, NC—
half-circle arms bowed to a black leather seat
mounted on tapered legs—loaded emptiness
like a trebuchet in a museum, or a snow day.
For hours, in the framed caricature of Flaubert,
I was the moon in that room too, gleaming,
long after the party ended, the stereos quieted.
I kept the traffic sounds and heat out all night
and conditioned air and quiet in. I was
the seen, the heard, inside and out, and not—
because I divided things. I was the weather
until the sun broke the sea, the park, the lot,
its light honeying through me then like a lion
as I dared and understood how, briefly anyway,
because however I tried I could not be that light.
It was a Wednesday, the twelfth of August, 2009.

"Oceanview" was included in Selected Collective: Tigertail, A South Florida Poetry Annual, Volume VIII, an issue devoted entirely to the phenomenon of the Miami Poetry Collective.


Brackish Rhapsody

I.
 
Didn't I meet you
once, in Stockholm,
 
didn't you syndrome
or syndicate terror
 
into me, your ostrich,
your mendicant,
 
didn't I wake up
with your constellation
 
inscribed on my thighs,
my fingerprints?
 
Or was it Stendhalian?
Because ill-timed coins,
 
spent to empty bottles,
delivered me to theater
 
in the armor, protective
as a turned-out pocket,
 
of the Order of Love
that Knows No Latitudes.
 
 
II.
 
Words you never
pronounced to learn
 
correctly cough
my ribcage
 
and ulcer my veins
like a yolk
 
bordering its spurning
in the skillet
 
on a perfect
Sunday morning
 
as a papier-mâché,
full-frontal hangover
 
begins from behind
and eggs its way
 
off the bed, to the sofa
to the floor,
 
where all the fun is,
where our language
 
doesn't have a gun or
any rules to recognize.
 
 
III.
 
Our grammar,
especially
 
the soft, prolonged ahs
like the long, slow slough
 
of hurricane hours,
and the sharper, shorter ohs
 
that crack like rain
on the windowpanes,
 
the windy shudders
in our conjunctions!

Mark Strand selected "Brackish Rhapsody" for Best New Poets 2008, an anthology of fifty poems from emerging writers.


All Things Illegible

Divided by zero, the world upturns itself
as the Gulf opens its wounds to the sun.
 
The chill grows to a cold breeze
along bubbles of foam fractaling
 
over broken shell after broken shell,
each scattered piece a fraction
 
of what I need to know.
Silkened and fragile, the white sand
 
smudges its shadows—their work done,
like history—and kneads steeper ridges
 
where the sand greets the gates
of the houses facing the sea,
 
where seagrass leans against fence slats
as at the edge of the world the last
 
bleeding inch of sunlight streaks
across the water toward these shadows,
 
and even the approaching dark darkens,
though when it arrives it has nothing to say.

"All Things Illegible" was chosen by Richard Blanco for Tigertail: A South Florida Poetry Annual, Volume IV and the following year by Max Winter for Tigertail's Editor's Choice issue, Volume V.


Sestina with Clementines, Beer, and Guitar

December settles on the beach supermarket.
In the marvelously artificial light, a man
stands in the fruit section near a woman.
Looking at pineapples and clementines,
he wonders what they would play on a guitar,
though he intends to buy only beer.
 
He thinks that his desire for beer
and the warm sea winds outside the supermarket
could be explained easily by a guitar
though misunderstood, like women, by any man.
Bruises and early harvesting mar the clementines.
He picks up a lime, imagines saying to the woman,
 
Most fruits prefer Flamenco, but the woman
is selecting oranges. She seems as interested in a beer
as the shelves must be in the clementines.
The athletic winds hurdle the supermarket.
Half-resolved, rejecting the lime, the man
ridicules the idea of fruit playing guitar
 
as holiday classics, articulated on three guitars,
discourage him from speaking to the woman.
The songs' elevator sophistication mocks the man
like a morning kiss spoiled by an aftertaste of beer;
in the conditioned cool of the supermarket,
he feels like an overripe clementine.
 
We are what we are, say the clementines.
Hark! The herald angels sing, offer the guitars.
After collecting her oranges in the supermarket
with careful consideration, the woman
wants artichokes, more stoic than bottles of beer.
When she walks past him she doesn't see the man.
 
But, agile and ardent as the winds, while the man
abandons his equation with the clementine
and forsakes the fruits to search for tonight's beer,
the oranges in her basket take up a guitar
and play a sly, endearing legato for the woman.
She hums along in the aisles of the supermarket.
 
Among the beer, trying to ignore the holiday guitar,
the man agrees with the inscrutable clementines.
The woman waits in the supermarket's checkout line.

"Sestina with Clementines, Beer, and Guitar" first appeared online at McSweeney's Internet Tendency.


Still Life with Peach

Silence knows no history, only the rotting peach in a basket on the table.
Fruit flies vulture the pulp urgently. They'll be dead
 soon, or elsewhere.
Wasting away, the peach wastes nothing ripening new bruises
with an earthquake style,
warm harmonies crowded by cooler tones,
 
and the white wall and window background
volunteers a little and a lot,
an occasional pall when the roofers sweep down
moth-mauled linen curtains
through a few seconds of tough wind—
loud, grainy chatter with a light sting—trivial only afterwards.
 
Outside, seagrapes knuckle and peel. All day,
I listen—thuds trundling above, branches
 blistering, the sun-slicked street,
the early moon seasick but amicable, in need of sleep and a shave—
as the peach calibrates its calm collapse.
 All day, I wait.
 
Time doesn't always elaborate its terms.
 I am almost Schrödinger's cat,
but the fruit flies are part of the process. On the table's scratched black
finish, the basket's shadows weave folded hands.
Dead matter is living spirit,
Kandinsky concluded. What if it's that simple?

An earlier version of "Still Life with Peach" was published in the Fall 2001 issue of The Bitter Oleander as a Frances Locke Memorial Poetry Award Finalist.


© 2006 - Christopher Louvet.