Poetry: Selections from Jonathan Hayes

from Purposeful Accident

Skydiving and Ruscha

15,000 feet
gunpowder on paper
the flat space of words
explode for $119 a jump
you can predict when the tides come in
but what they bring and take is of their own
santa creature
by the boardwalk
wharf kids stumble
the middle name, “Seth,” papa red fated
and all its Homeboy [1991 Random House]
nepotistic Tenderloin connections
of fried chicken and laughs
and what Janis Joplin
left behind
between the bed and

Diamond and Sneakers

absence of anaphora
calling you long distance
as we walk together
organic secret:
whisper to a hole in tree
cover it up w/ mud and leaves
a throat of hair and blood
a faucet of tragedy
chocolate psalm
goat song
New England blue
Rolling Rock and Schweppes ginger ale
a funeral in Gloucester
barnacle barnacl barnac barna barn bar

Jellyfish and Vinegar

breaks the bone
is on the throne
duck egg / skin anchor
ball and alcoholic chain
(submissive cucumber)
the weight of defeat
[on the perimeter of Times Square squared]
she took a Polaroid picture
and placed it on her pillowcase
next to her head in bed, whispering
a mantra
of multiplication tables
prayers answered

Knife and Milk

citrus youth
Tropicana morning
[tragedy of the Rubik’s Cube]
recess kickball rolling across the asphalt playground
orange peels and sandwich crumbs in parka pocket
Red Dye #2 afternoon
bug juice coming out the nose
back home, picking at scab until it bleeds
cupboard full of immaculate tin cans
a fish called tuna
spitting heinous mayonnaise
samurai tongue cuts stalks of celery
rime and wheat bread
Jack Frost in the backyard
each shadow, a parody of emotion personified
Channel Eleven: Sunset Boulevard
Her Claws, Her Claws

Glowstick and Ashtray

she farts and laughs
and they argue about the meaning of dialectic
like the jaws don’t hurt enuf
already four nights grinding teeth
and ignoring the Winterland wreath
de la family and flashbacks
people are too too nice in this land
need to get back to the concrete island
and invent something fresh
by the Hudson River while shopping for oranges
‘bout a dozen hours from Hong Kong
and a black dragon tattoo
“everything profound needs a mask”
French Onion Soup and fingernails
cool-breeze-liquid-menthol-aquamarine drinks at Argent Hotel bar
holiday o hollow night
blinking eyes
to make it all
neon gone

Clams Casino and Memory

does a cough have gender?
they cut off their genitals
and stuck them in a blender
she dreamt of Freud
his piano was out of tune
but he had the best coke in town!
a prospectus was needed
because every sentence bleeded
“ultimate freedom can only be achieved in isolation”
tell that to the Looney Tune
rolling down Market St.
doing as he pleases
smelling like rotten cheeses
that man on the corner selling paintings
could be the next Hitler, you know
black ice

Fan and Summer’s End

w/ her in the room
“you eat like a little girl”
I’ll smoke one of my twice-lucky cigarettes
from the pack I found on Muni
cuz she keeps her bad fortunes from cookies
and tells me my dick looks like the devil’s tail
she didn’t like Sinatra
in the man w/ the golden arm
but was glued to the tube
while Angela’s Ashes played
she came w/ empty suitcase
to leave w/ all intended
b/w photograph evidence
Laughing Sal laughs
que sera, sera

Jonathan Hayes lives in Santa Cruz, California by the San Lorenzo River. His chapbook Purposeful Accident is forthcoming from Holy & Intoxicated Press, England, 2022 and his collected work Ghetto Sunshine / Poems 1997 - 2022, is forthcoming from Vulgar Tongue Books, San Diego, California, 2022. He works as a grocer at Trader Joe's.