40 YEARS OF CUTBANK: "Songeur" by Ethan Paquin










From CutBank 69


You look egg shell in brown the stand there on a tree lined street as you glance toward a distant park We must stop walking together soon for the rain will come back Did you pressurise your special tree trunk as I witnessed last autumn When I had no idea who you were When I was ripe for dismissal like an anvil a top hat a horse’s shoes a monad Why did you enter my life Zebra herded out of its travel for children’s eyes to witnesseth Easter Morning come spilling previous night into memry and for all a new salvation a brand of Sunday kitchen cast light upon knives with baby’s breath handles Why did you Sidewalk dusted with the all-time most vicious and abundant pollen the malfunction of signage the closed street’s lane a solitude is an abstraction not in Paris where slow stroll is de rigeur and you weren’t with me But you talk Paris all the time and what do you think I will be able to do Why do I give in What does this sketch this scribbling on the cafe napkin symbolise What is a sign or fate or everything for its reason but stones as empty of mass of content as a library is as empty of solutions For whom do you watch at dusk when the willows frame the stars so theaterifically when mist is life’s meaning I know you watch You are the kind to do so just look at your eyes’ pensee and nonscatter They fix on some irresolute past in which all you’d eat alone each evening was oats some indeterminate future You’d look good with a smoke but you don’t do so and to your credit Why do you cause me to dream up scenes like these Or like the one in which we trade lines along a bay and the sky is dregs like always and the ducks are May’s October’s ours Swimming hole up north nestled aside in a brook on Kinsman Ridge up high It took me several attempts to make it up there Once I was turned back by the top of thunder as grievous and grief-stricken as a rabbit hutch overgrown with the loss of a past in which men bred rabbits for show and for meat for pleasure and for grandsons to learn about care and tending And now look at my lump of failure in the guise of paper upon which words sprayed contemplate the slow death of morality’s tiny and of a pain and a depth we’ve all got and it’s what makes sculpture so and it’s what and it’s what makes paintings so And these scenes in which we act out a thing so untenable and far-removed from any universe we will ever know these eat til they are full Do you know the parable of the worm the brick and the ointment Neither do I but the three actors sound terrible together like rigid tempera’s grip on untreated cardboard the egg gone sour and the pigment mixed piss-poorly Are you here to help my maudlin drip out a bit faster than usual Look a stone it skips the surface of the pond For whom do you watch at dusk from beneath the black iron awning of a building abandoned storefront emptied glass intact but business vacated For whom How you can stand for thousands of hours in silence and only with me is a home in the swallow’s unrecognized willow The bird returning to a place it’s never known but for what its instinct and its jam-like neurons tell it You have been here and here you will stay and here you will have to make some kind of subsistence view of the meadows the larks don’t have it so good The grapple and debate Wasn’t I somewhere better or don’t I belong to some other place And then the wind kicks in and the bird the bird forgets the trifles and needs to settle in Needs to Do you green like a word cut from esoteric notepad rooftop What processes have you Look at your shoes they are ocean avenue brown In the brook a churn a sand brought down from the high peak and still going to the bottom of the sea Is that how the narrative goes Indeed and you keep coming and walking in scenes toward me and I am sad for I can’t picture the sea at all The thought of the chute


Ethan Paquin's fifth book of poems, Cloud Vs. Cloud, was recently released by Ahsahta Press. He lives and teaches in New Hampshire.