Stealing Someone’s Favorite Word

Poems by Bill Carty

Troublesome Pilot

I guess the wind
did it

or age
much goes

sideways
with age

comfort becomes
that certain

I-know-not-what
the digital

model augurs
effects of sea-rise

on the least tern
the pattern

of the great
auk egg

is gone

tides won’t
watch us

until we look
away

the drought-
stricken

marched in the arroyo
waving blue

sheets
the newscasters

laughed
because it snowed

that summer

most people occupying
the park

appeared to be
on assignment

“troublesome pilot”
you wrote

on the stove
when you smoked

the green puff
was a fuse

you sparked

in opposition
to death

you left carrying
whatever

would fit

in your pockets
I was spinning

lettuce
I hoped

time moved
in a circuit

as science has
predicted

future depth
of the mean

fortis beak

as many vintage
styles wait

at the light
for permission

to cross from here

the idea of wilderness
as circumscribed zone

it seems
embarrassingly

American
not to speak of

the love we shed

each snakeskin
nailed to the beam.

Apocrypha

A pilot carried us through night
and we arrived as late revelers
mingled with those who slept
where they weren’t supposed to
sleep. Tired and thus more given

to indiscriminate attraction,
I fall for the Caravaggio hanging
nearest: Judith traded
sackcloth for gown, wooed then
dispatched besotted Holofernes,

and though she’s jewel-less,
the joke works: he’s a victim
of fashion. Poor Holofernes,
never to see the morning’s
pigeons, the market draped

with fog until it isn’t — suddenly,
the vendor’s dog is shining,
sun doubles on its bare patch
of skin. Hit with light like that,
what creature wouldn’t glow

from the inside out. And what
landscape, now clothed, wasn’t
raised in the wild. Our ticket
permits re-entry from now until
the weekend. Beyond this, two

routes determine our revision.
The first reflects the past;
its concerns are familiar. The other
covets fashion. The future.
What will people wear then?

Bill Carty lives in Seattle. He was a 2013–14 Poetry Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA, and a 2016 Literary Fellowship recipient from Artist Trust. His chapbook Refugium was published by Alice Blue Books, and his poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in The Boston Review, The Iowa Review, Willow Springs, Conduit, Pleiades, The Volta, Oversound, and other journals. He is an Associate Editor at Poetry Northwest.

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