Three Poems by William Lessard

William Lessard

<en passant>

the hammer i raised to my father’s skull
holds open the bathroom window

history is sometimes the breeze
that enters through the daisy curtain

in the moments before that moment
i saw myself a fly
inching a stippled surface

joy was insect glory
a moment rubbing
eyelash legs

in the history of survivor art
there is the theme of wishing the trauma withheld
replaces the trauma sustained

its desire lights the faces of all those Modigliani ladies

narrow bourgeois faces
tilted toward Verdun

in Medieval cosmology, it was believed
that wind was a gathering of pneuma

in my personal cosmology, the winds
have always carried my father’s breath

it’s a scent i recalled every night in bed
until i was 40

that was when i could see him in the mirror

it’s not until we see our father staring back
that we begin to forgive

in the support literature, people
who grew up with an alcoholic
are called “adult children”

the term has since been generalized to refer to anyone
who can’t identify the culprit
who can’t identify the victim in self-flagellation

memory is history that never filed a police report

early tonight when i placed the hammer in the window
i wasn’t thinking of my father

i prefer history as erasure
i prefer memory as rewriteable landscape

a dharma transmitted
by keystroke

Modigliani painted his subjects
one eye turned inward, one outward

it was his version of the Buddhist notion
that the present only exists
at the negation of future and past

memory studies have shown scrub jays
that had food stolen by avian bandits
were cautious about concealing their stash

scientists call the manipulation “mental time travel”

they believe the birds journey to a positive future
where their food waits
under the same leaf when they return

being a person means being the narrator of one’s own death

tonight when i placed the hammer in the bathroom window
a breath that had been traveling 40 years
finally reached my skin

<fair market value>

the last 25 cents in denim

rat-tailed dialectic
stonewashed apposition

step forward
as the heel of your right shoe stutters
a lifted plane

<face> the individuation of fist

the glance
that trails

a thin cobalt tear
estimate of empire

everyone said there would be complications
brambles that answer to the middle of the spine

knees clamped
in argument
#fact that has been drinking since noon

a man with two hats
inquiring for a failed ontology

answer in skin
knees bend a purple lace
ankles divide fair market value

everyone was wrong
your grandmother
the brambles that cornered her mouth

receipt for atrocities served

name <incomplete>

lately i have felt the urge to return to a beach where the sand has been replaced by twitching innards
my excuse: to retrieve a pair of sunglasses i was wearing long ago—on the best day
of my youth                   the day the sun swam down my throat as translucent fish

the truest ontology is aspirational
when my dog looks in the mirror she sees wolf when i look i see bear

of the six-inch incisor
giving back the moon

lately i have wondered what it would’ve been to live           claws spotting the floor in uneven clots 

depression hunts in middle-distance
in couch recumbence we show our neck
age has taught best detection comes from treadmill height

mottled sack,
hemp apocalypse flagging flagging

/empty at the jaws

to be mistaken for a person         to be mistaken for a person with blue wings fanning from their shoulders

lately i’ve been seeing an old man at the supermarket             his face frosted into the glass door of the frozen desserts                         tonight when i finally decide        to introduce myself,
i realize

no need to give my name

metaphysical weather

only cold water from the tap

intention reaching for a sweater as September whispers

Alaska at the ankles

among the items suggested for a self-care box for Anxiety and Depression:

2.    A water bottle.
3.    A hairbrush.
5.    Sensory pleasing objects, such as candles, soft blankets, oversized plush animals.
9.    A coloring book and crayons, other activities offering easy resolution.
10.  Step-by-step instructions how to clean your room, how to clean yourself.

William Lessard has writing that has appeared or is forthcoming in McSweeney’s, FANZINE, Prelude, Hyperallergic, PANK, and Brooklyn Rail. His work has also been featured at MoMA PS1.

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