Two Poems by Danniel Schoonebeek

New York Live Arts presents

Marjani Forte
Nov 15-19


Marshall1Web Body

Marshall Schuettle. Mr. Bones. Photograph, 55×67 inches, 2013. Courtesy of the artist.

DEBUT

The suit I wore the day I was born



I stole

from a thrift store was wove



out of very cheap mother

warm muslin



I soiled

like men do



when the day comes to ruin their threads

 

Marshall2Web Body

Marshall Schuettle. Eden, WI. Photograph, 60×70 inches, 2013. Courtesy of the artist.

LEDGER (DELAWARE BOYS)

One of us falls into the manure spreader the sun

have you seen it



it bleaches the straw

the bone meal



It watches the flies in hysteria defile what’s breathing or isn’t



They breed

They hatch



The field like the thigh of a horse we think it trembles



Have you seen it the sun it smears

the salve in its eyes



It strikes out pitiless and burning the shit

 


 

Osmon Steele undersheriff of Delaware County he wore the tin on his heart

He boasted



during the Anti-Rent War eighteen forty-five that lead cannot



penetrate Steele

Well the bullet



when it ate through the six-pointed star on his shirt



was the black tooth

of an appaloosa it tore through the badge it left



a hole the size of a solar eclipse



A man in calico dress and tin horns on his head he wouldn’t admit he fired



the shot

(stifling that August



inside the courtroom) his testimony



he said Osmon was a good man a Delaware boy and so

the casket closed on him



He said justice for me is a field of dead horses in summer the flies when they come



they think themselves ghosts

They think it’s winter



But the ones who rent your land we know better it’s tar



not flies

and that isn’t snow it’s feathers
 

August in Delaware County the days do not end



not until a spinach seed

or a Delaware boy



pushes his hand through the earth



We say we’ll dust off

the book when we find it here in the dirt



its cover like skin if skin is blue corn



We say here in our American Legion

when the sandlot is empty



we will find the book and settle our names that we could not settle like scores



One of us didn’t know it

was loaded



One of us when he tore his shirt he soaked the strips in ether



He breathed until

he saw the million larvae



hatch in each of his eyes



One of us is shot down

in the desert the fire was friendly they ship him back home



wrapped in horse meat and feathers the sun



strikes out pitiless

and burning the quills



One of us we hear say I saw one of ours one of the Delaware girls today

Her face it was smeared



it was rouge on her face and unguent like one of those Bedford girls



I quit my mouth he says

like I’d quit any field that yielded no harvest one of us



instead of a fist inside of a rib cage was built with a boot knife inside of a rat cage



One of us bit

into an earthworm went crazy he chases



his father whose face



he’s never seen

down a gravel road dragging a string of empties behind him



The casket is closed man

we hear one of us say



The words in his skull we can see them glinting like coins



the manure spreader the grinder

the blades and the bone meal the sun



it’s burning the shit



The casket is closed man we don’t pay

respect we don’t



shake his father’s hand we don’t kiss his mother’s



When we find the book



we will settle our names that we could not settle (we say it) like debts
 

We say when his hand



pushes its way through the earth

I will pay Osmon Steele



the two silver dollars I stole from my grandmother’s eyelids



Thank you for the horses landlord

Thank you for the shit



I will tear my shirt to dress his wound I will smear the salve where the flies crawl

into his eyes



Osmon they breed

They hatch Osmon



They strike out pitiless and tarring the skin

Danniel Schoonebeek’s first book of poems, American Barricade, will be published in 2014 by YesYes Books. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Tin House, Boston Review, Fence, Guernica, Kenyon Review, Denver Quarterly, Gulf Coast, Colorado Review, Verse Daily, Drunken Boat, and elsewhere. He writes a monthly column on poetry for The American Reader, hosts the Hatchet Job reading series in Brooklyn, and edits the PEN Poetry Series. Find him here.

Borderland, a major solo exhibition of Marshall Scheuttle’s photographs, is on display at the CEPA Gallery through August 10th. A print edition of the exhibition is forthcoming this Fall.

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