Jason Guriel



Imperfect things are always —
it seems — a wave
of some wand away
from perfection.
They’ re there — the toady
and the bumpy
with warts — for turning
into princes. Even pumpkins —
propped upon
piles of lumber —
idle like unupholstered
carriages up on cinder
blocks. But a trifle’ s potential —
its capacity for alchemy, actually —
can leave you longing
for lead. So many things
you think are Prince Hals
are really just kings.

John Hancock’s John Hancock

makes wind
the way it whirls
about and blows
the neighboring names
of other signatories
away. The point
of it is not
the John or Jane
Doe it names;
the point’ s the quill
in motion as if
still stuck
and aquiver in
goose skin.
The trick to writing
well isn’ t up
the sleeve. It is
the sleeve
that fluffs up
the flourish,
that blooms around
the stunted stamens
of the fingers
and distracts us
from our grasping
for the sun

Money Is Also a Kind of Music

Money is also a kind of music.
I don't mean the slight sleigh bell
of a pocketed change purse
or an old-time till's single tap
of triangle, ringing
up sale, or even the percussion
of post-pillage coffers filling
up, plink by plink. I think
I mean that current
of classically trained breath
certain amounts of currency
can call forth
and blow through brass.
I mean the mean
current of electricity
Carol Kaye's bass drew
from Capitol Records in the sixties,

Soft Spots

They’ re worse than weak links
in chains, which we can blame
on blacksmiths’ fire, and chinks
in armor, made by rain

of arrows. Soft spots,
those parts of us that bruise,
prove we’ re fruit that rots
as hourglasses ooze.

But I’ ve a soft spot for,
a phrase we tend to whisper,
is what we say before
we name our guilty pleasure —

the damper pedal that pounds
sonatas into mush
the critic Ezra Pound
would call, with a shudder, slush.