Denim Lemonade as Template

by Henry Goldkamp


It starts or ends with a fever, can’t
remember which, as the entire world
rusts about you, electric teeth walk in,

paired with a watery ark.
Then something is broken
that is usually not broken.


Not to waste a drop, here’s the part you name
names everybody’s got to look up, singers
and jazz, severe joy belted only for you.

Fish-eyed readers fish out their phones,
suck up their morals, their 4G, their inheritance:
you must mention this all. Technology has its place.


Remember #2 if you can: Again, name names
except it’s people with pens, not brass, this time.
If possible, a dead writer of a deader language.


Whatever preciousness was/is still broken
because it is part of the entire world, walking
inkblots. Hash is out, a shadow of herself,

a ghost of themselves, a shell of beach-self.
A sober poem recites itself, despite most things
touching it being on fire: teeth (when in doubt),


always teeth, bar stools, glass objects
of California and Virginia. Fuckin’ trees.
Fuckin’ birds. Fuckin’ dogs. Maybe it is time

—which is running out, which is gnawing at you
with hugs, which is your cross-dressing brother
ordering a beer from the ark’s drive-up window—

to get back to endless death, a caulk of ghosts,
a friend of mine, denim lemonade floods
a Hooters in Chattanooga, Tennessee,


treading the Earth of Things like some
sad, trumpetless beast from pocket bibles
under a heat lamp, rural teenager’s sun.

Time picks you last at latchkey, humidity
creaking in your knee, busy trending water.
You tend to books and moldy honeycomb sap.


Double-check the following: enough war,
enough centrifugal force, enough joke,
enough African-Americanism, enough God,

enough pain, enough hope, enough love.
But by God! Don’t use those words exactly!
Just say “ahhh” and show those dentures.


Words don’t rent space in lofty skyscrapers.
They lodge themselves in sticky pink bike racks,
suck on the drinking fountain nozzle, the tongue,

while the line watches behind you in disgust.
Do it right, and they pile back onto that ark,
blow their horns, sail upon salt-waves of thirst.