WOW HUH
Poems by Keith J. Varadi


Arena

Spalding is a ball

Wilson is a man

Art is an image

Of man playing

Games in arenas

Colossal craters

Creating craning

Words together

To say just what

You mean to say


Cursory Poem

the bread is one_the thread is spun_under humid skies_leavened molds_folded ruined plumes_tater tot heap hop-alongs_some rivers are tougher to part_some water is clearer in parts_Camden is just as real as ever_don’t double cross me he said_don’t come back she said_fooled free ransom_random dandies sprouting_lying and rhyming_hoping to find sight of psychic pals_rally capped rams' nails_scraping against rubber or concrete_seasoned and sauntered_mushroom clouded vision_ munch on that adult mulch_much too much_now you've got champagne problems_ lap dog lap dance_sad song romance_disrobe any beast known still_still sitting_sitting still_disturbing the pieces of poems from before the last year of luck_stapled and sucked_ puckered and able_pock-marked_ plopped on and popped off_pages upon pages_up on pages words go_rods go in skies or ready-worn eyes_I told you no more_I told you no more_I told you I know more_merely saying so is a sign_a singer is sweeter with eyes closed_the ocean is sweeter with eyes opened_stacks of books always fall_failure is a preoccupation_what is your occupation_even practical careers end_don’t start with me_some phrases are meaningless_some words are meaningless_some letters are arbitrary_z is worthless_I rarely ever type z_vowels are condescending_sometimes I hate vowels_sometimes I just want to take my socks off in public_I don’t want to feel lazy_I don’t want to feel shame_I have typed the letter z three times_wait four times_I have typed the letter z five times in this poem_I can’t feel lazy now_I can’t feel lazy ever_but sometimes I feel overly self-conscious_ like as if everybody knows that my socks are off and I’m trying too hard_but most people don’t understand relativity_usually I feel like I ought to go back to letting words fit themselves together_usually I feel like forcing letters is counter-productive_also I think that sending e-mails you don’t want to send typically aren’t worth the trouble_and then I looked up and the train conductor said pigeons are the true work of God

Science & Fiction

There is a familiar scent to this furnace—
it smells like the warm wood lugged
from Kent, England to be burned
from past to present; and now, as I
mill about from present to future,
my mind is a camera obscura,
obscuring names, carved in trees,
but I must demystify the muck.

I hear an eagle caw in the distance,
I see a Cyclops crawl in proximity;
there is a black and white photo
of Tudor architecture, hanging
in the right side of my head
and a steel drum set, pounding
in the left temple, sending
jolts of appropriation down.

I feel the wrath of God, pulling
on my left arm, down to my elbow—
the God I am told to fear by the Tanakh
and by the Westboro Baptist Church;
but Margaret tells me not to believe,
and as long as I feel the warmth
of her wood, whatever pain I feel,
I can put in the furnace to burn.

The irony though is that we preserve
just enough trees to meet some quota,
but we don’t use them to stay warm
any longer, so my metaphor is porous;
and this is the problem of poetry,
and this is the problem with love;
I try to be eloquent and get burned,
but for reasons I cannot explain.

However, reason has brought me
to believe a good woman’s touch
is the purest of cures; but I wonder
what do women get in return for all
that they have given me? A poem,
perhaps? Or even worse, casual words,
spoken in conversation? I apologize
for every apology I have submitted.

You know, you can always say no;
but what if you do not know what
you are turning down? Privilege
often allows one to pick and choose,
but when I am stuck with my face
flattened on my bedroom carpet,
and the touch of my good woman
is my only hope, I’ll say yes.

I could never understand science
fiction, though I could understand
fanboys—fantasy is their good woman;
for me, it was always such a worry
to discern the difference between
science and fiction, when I have spent
more than half of my years in school,
and half of my days writing stories.


Semi For

Cultural codes
Societal signifiers
Juxtaposed poetics
Ascetic aesthetics
Investigative empathy
Glossy sunlit printouts
Without any warning
Oh hey now that it’s 2013
When do we say grace
You know what you need
Gridded note pads
To share your feelings
To share your faith
But you can be silent
If you are in the public
If you are published
I know I have an MFA
But I think it’s okay to say
Academics can be dicks
Where are their feelings
Where is their faith
All wise men say
Get the spirit in you
You can find it anywhere
On any street corner
A bolted liquor store
Bolt is a funny word
At once stationary
Yet gone without notice
And you don’t notice
Anything until it’s gone
I like the way some phrases
Sound better when spoken
In German or French or
Isn’t it strange how different
English can sound based
On its place of origin
Human Resources
Everything is open wide
When you are fresh
Showered with ideas
You can lose your own
When did you get cleansed
Did you wash them all away
Okay answer me this
Courbet versus Vuillard
Futile comparison you say
I say fertile high-contrast
Correspondence is paramount
Self-sufficiency is no option
For living in this city
Let’s raft up the Hudson
We can tell our stories
I mean I can tell stories
Diagrammatic campfires
Origin of the New World
Mobs of marble men
Claiming their rites
Right and wrong
Were just words
Back in those days
Sovereignty was all
You can count on that
You can count on some
Things and things have
A way of thinking alone
Inanimate lamp turn on
Oh now I have an idea
But this time I’ll hold on
Hold on let me make sense
Do you have an inventory
Of all your recent grids
Please share your feelings
Please share your faith
Providence as a town
Providence as an idea
Provincial ideas
Leaving sister cities
We can posteriorly
Straddle the equator
Until we’re slutty enough
And rinse our mouths
Then shut them in ice
Chosen career traps
Tempers get so hot
20/20 sense of solution
Wind chill whispers
Don’t be rude just don’t
Don’t swim in canals
Nothing good can come
From being locked
And damned it can
Be simple to survey
Get your belt now
There are so many uses
For a belt you’d never
Have a clue unless
You have a cow
But we’re not cartoons
And we’re not Hindus
You’re not a Buddhist
Are you a Buddhist
Tell me something
I didn’t already know
I’m going to work on
Shadow puppets now
With or without you
It’s so cold you’re so cold
Oh Chinese snow fans
Surprise physical therapy
Burn all Chuck Taylors
This world doesn’t need
Any more floppy shoes
I’m tired of this country
I’m tired of complaints
Mine or anyone else’s
Every man needs space
I cannot speak for women
But I believe in equality
I’m going to my place
Arctic Circle Attic
Anti-Arctic Climax
It’s not okay to confuse
Global issues once
You are thirty or so
It is okay to wax
Oils after painting
Can you imagine
A candle-lit landscape
Painted en plein air
19th Century Style
In the 21st Century
Me neither but I can
Imagine off-setting
The original somehow