The Prisoner Poems

                               My life is my own.
                               —No. 6

             • “Arrival”

My name is a twee number to Portmerion.
I am black–and–white in these colors.
I am a card.

             • “The Chimes of Big Ben”

Art’s a boat you paddle with your hands,
and maritime is the right time.
At sea the sheets get knotted
and scudding’s the way to be.
What helps home?
Debriefing wallows in the salted Thames.

A falling parachute discovers its inverse
wailing and wailing like a pie.

             • “A, B, and C”

Letters aren’t people but bear some relation to them.
As in the case of to. Intravenous is introduction.
I have the guess of game,
now that every TV is my mind.

             • “Free for All”

“An election? I won’t stand for it,” means something else to a Britisher.
Means something less to us.
First serf’s appearance at the height of the haunt o’ the moon
as the villagers do a dance round their white weathered balloon.

             • “The Schizoid Man”

“No Darjeeling—”
“One for me—”
“Cut it out—”
“Why did you resign?”
“—no, Darjeeling.”
“—one for you.”
“—cut it out.”

Adverb is lee.

             • “The General”

Education is a process of planing; yet we delight in topography.
How everything declines to the beach, for example.
But that too seems reducible to numbers
as pre-Socratics punch me in the face.

             • “Many Happy Returns”

I made this tiny car with my hands.

             • “Dance of the Dead”

Overnight delivery of identity at no extra charge.
Name in black font for a baptism.
We flee freedom. Am fled.
The transplanted bay, bay, bays...

             • “Checkmate”

Math made cruel makes the game.
Queen me! I cry.

A plaster masque of my genitals
parades alone under the Green Dome.

             • “Hammer into Anvil”

Bumblebee with wrists crossed you’re out of sorts now.
Bumbershoot you’re a clumsy weapon.
The see-saw men saw it all.
Will we ever know phones without wires?

             • “It’s Your Funeral”

Sympathy for authority faded like a French fleur.
Spoken words for this music make not a tick–tock.
O heliotrope! You don’t fly like the time.
Stoicism flurries me warmer.

             • “A Change of Mind”

Psychotropics again. Norman Bates in St. Tropez?
Or a shark’s grin under a Panama?
Double’s me unmutually, I can’t wear this face much longer.
Crack of a lookingglass shot in the back. Shunned!
Miserly, miserly me.

             • “Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling,” or
                 Ice Station Zebra

Abscond with that face, as requested, and meet a woman manfully.
Finally. Nought’s as fake as snow through a fan.
Or a billionaire’s legendary toenails
growing toward the whiteout screen
bearing the stripes of a horseheaded animal.

Simple declarative: “They drowned.”

             • “Living in Harmony”

You know how to whistle, don’t you? That’s wind
singing in your empty holster. Let’s shift the whole hand west:
four aces flung at a hat. After a while
I was virtually Gary Cooper.
Every man’s hand against me
quick-drawing my prick of noon.

             • “The Girl Who Was Death”

Story makes hours into children. Passed times
croquet was da bomb. Whose side
was “our side” on? Hawk English

spoken here.

             • “Once Upon a Time”

Beyond the third degree, beyond patience for portents,
a silk basso dueled to the death with a Byronic molecular bond.

Found: an athlete of facts. Found: a rocking-horse winner.
The jury found for the plaintive. The judge shaved his beard.

So come in if you’re coming, else
rattle this iron cage. The Village seen from space is seen.

             • “Fall Out”

None’s so sound as a silo bearing a mask bound for the troposphere.
That is not a figurative space. Sir, will you deign for us?
Will you replant that severed root?

Children become representative like an alphabet carved in salt,
dissolving in discoverers’ time. A tommy gun speaks up my sublime.

Monkeying was the Cold War but now my life is my flown.
A gate bangs in Parliament, a pennywhistle tears the air.

A farthing for this face to peer between the grinning spokes.
Your license money’s paid. Your old republic soaks.

Joshua Corey is the author of Selah (Barrow Street Press, 2003) and Fourier Series (Spineless Books, 2005). He lives in Ithaca, New York, where he is writing a dissertation on modernist pastoral and keeps a blog, Cahiers de Corey.


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