Mastodon Eight Poems by Todd Colby

Todd Colby—Eight Poems

Todd Colby

Peace & Good Order

Okay dear, whatever you can manage

will be propped up in a boat next to you

full of apologies and texts from some cabin

pumped with nitrous oxide next to the ocean.

You can’t regret stuff when your mouth

is lick-jacking the petunias. In this instance

the poltergeist is actually the heat in this room.

That shit’s got a real ghostly presence here

on Baltic Street. I’d like nothing more

than to see the future spread out on your bed

in chambray and muscles but I’m stuck.

This is like some other things,

but I like this one better.

You know what I am saying.

Orange Tan

What a ridiculously hot day can do

is make you sweat all over me.

All of this realism is what makes things

sort of interesting for the people

who can’t be here right now.

By referring to real things

throughout the day,

you can start behaving

like you have a real body

that can do fun things.

I would like to sit down

on the roof and watch

you fly away to some realistic

land just down the block. Brooklyn in the heat

is so meager in the Department of Hope.

I am leaping into position, ready for the

delight that people with orange tans provide.

I will think of the circumstances that led me here

and, when I’m done, I will craft an excuse

not to be here at all.

How to Initiate Human Contact

You could arm wrestle with a perfect stranger

on a beautiful day like today. Okay, try this:

Walk into a deli and put a gallon of milk on the counter and ask

the cashier to arm wrestle. Simply put your elbow up

on the counter next to the milk and challenge the cashier

with your inside voice. Maybe there’s a truck idling outside

and some kids are walking to school,

maybe a man is standing behind you

with a package of cookies. It’s all coming together now.

You need to initiate contact with some fellow humans,

but you’re going about it all wrong.

You’re too aggressive and there’s not enough sweetness or fun

in your leisure activities. Here, let me show you how.

I hope this is a magical year for you.

I miss you a lot.


Imagine a city

underwater where you

swim around in fancy pants

lock arms with total strangers

surface gasping as your lungs blaze

surrounded by bright orange air

you are nearly magical and sincere

children drive silver jets

that they pedal with their tiny legs

and then more summer

and simple movements

almost like dancing

around the sun on a goofy planet

here we are whispering our day

over the phone hexing new developments

holding on for one more day.

King of Time

I’m going to use the words you love

write something that smells like beer

light a bonfire on the roof

toss pine cones at the neighbor

kids I’m going to shout into a dirt clod

like it was a microphone

in a laundromat I will go back to my school

and jump around the auditorium like I never

did once I should have stuck my finger

in a socket in the Principal’s office I will leap

into the air from the water tower spray

some paint over a “Rimbaud” stencil

on the back of my V.W. light the action

in the aftermath of glory comes platinum

oh you inspectors of cruelty I’ll have none of your

sparkled hairdos and misshapen identities

you can keep your hot pounds and your celebrities with glass eyes

go throw yourself into a wall I prefer to chat with my mouth

or chew into an apple of deeper beats in this backwater of life

uninterrupted by death I have a hand waving

get me out of here.

Radiant & Dazzling

I want something really vast and soft

and radiant and dazzling to lift you into

the day so that you feel a real sense of panic

start to recede. There will be gorgeous spiders

and bits of blue skin and something really

sweet like peach pie and honey and pomegranate

jam and stuff like that. Huge flakes of snow

won’t piss you off like they do me when you

walk in the field in Prospect Park someone

is there won’t you watch them watch you

walk to me? I can’t control what you do

in your free time but I can make a helpful

suggestion or three. Won’t all the days you thought

would never end finally end and become

planted in your memory as calm shivers? A shark never

stops moving, not even for you, so why should

you stop getting jacked up before bed, if not for me?

The city is all moist and expectant

like my hand on your cheek as you sleep,

I certainly hope so.

Red Onion in the Snow

An elegant blitz of slush

is something I can wake up to.

My sheets have jelly on them.

All my books are marked with severed

pinkies. Out in the living room someone

spilled corn on the pillows

and stinky green multivitamins

are strewn on the floor.

What’s going on here?

I’m alone with the

crisp metallic clang of the radiator and the sounds

of snow removal machines humming

together creating a wobbly harmony.

The day is blank. Someone put

a red onion on the snow outside

my door, like that would help

change things, like I would ever

make out on the F Train again.

Who Let You Go?

All the people are getting even with my

new panic button because they are revved up on

capitalism. A battering ram at my door like on a cop show,

with theatrical urgency, because they know they’re being filmed.

I don’t want to wake up to that, ever. It’s good to mention

what you feel too but what about my door? It’s fucked.

An eagle on a nature show eats some fungi

and mistakes himself for a fist with wings

(he flies pretty good for sick eagle though).

Oh for the days of simply whistling while I floated

down a river with my ass planted in an inner tube.

Oh to never again frisk a litigant, or sell something

to someone I don’t even know. I’m trying to be fabulous

all the time. I’ve ordered some super special diamond dice

from the internets that are just for licking, you. Of

wetness and the bridge of your nose, of workers

knocking things over, of dreams that show

no signs of beginning. Oh, who let you go?


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