November 2003

Curtis Bauer


Curtis Bauer Curtis Bauer has been published in various literary magazines such as The North American Review, Illuminations, and Rhino. His first book, Fence Line, winner of the 2003 John Ciardi Prize for Poetry, will appear in 2004.
Headlines    Click to hear in real audio

What can I do
if nothing moves me
as much as this flat
paper pecking my leg?

Things can only be what they are.
This paper, just paper.  
Not the news printed on its back.  

Just paper, beside me,
sounding like a chicken pecking.

Sound, deceiving device
floating through air
on the back of things: deceiving.  

Deception deceiving?
I've got too much time to think.  

I get philosophy—
I don't want to be philosophical here,
philosophy and sound,

pecking and paper
beginning to bleed into each other,
blood's gonna spill, then
I'll get drunk

so I won't remember
the new nonsense,
the new creeds,
the new regime.



Letter    Click to hear in real audio

Dear Mr. Proust;
What do you see at night
when the ink well's empty
and you're alone?  
When you wake
is there memory of
a place in the cork
wall that reminded you  
that young men are content
to let you watch them work
or is it a confusion of the present,
the solitude when you see
a moving shadow
glinting off the machine shop tin?  
Perhaps when age confronts you
all fine lines shaded by shadow,
by the absence of light, memory, past
relieves the present. . .

ah fuck, never mind.



The Author's Conversation With Adolph Wölfli    Click to hear in real audio

Which way does the Thames flow?
North.  Or maybe south.
Why doesn't your hair grow?
Why should it?
Where is your paint? Your brushes
and your canvas?

I'm hungry.
Do you think cows eat corn faster when it's ground?
Their milk is richer if you kick them.  
Look . . .
At me.  Do you think this place could be your home?
Where are the mountains?
Are there mountains where you come from?
No, cities.
What comes to mind when you think of cities like London, Paris... ?
The dark sewers.
But I said yes, didn't I?
I asked you the question.
Isn't that the question I wanted you to answer?
         And shouldn't you look familiar to me?
What do you think of when you touch the smooth grain of wood?
Calm, soft-bristled brushes.
My shirt?
     Your little toe, the skin underneath, why isn't it your elbow?
Because north London is still south of what is further north.
And the river, why won't it stop?
I can't stand here and do this anymore.
I know this land. The stones under my ass are moving

Because of the water. . .
No, you can't make it stop.
Did you see that black flutter across the wall?
Was it north moving south?
Oh yes, how did you know?
Because of the numbers one, two, twenty.
Who created numbers anyway?
I also want to know why temperature isn't measured by sound.
A river has to flow.
And a lake sit?

Trees stand                                         
On mountains?
Could water? And sky?                     
Why is it always up?
No, not always. I guess . . .

Over here,
Do you see something?
If I blow the sky moves.
The door.
Don't leave me in here.
Smell at least.
I'd like to go now.
Let me drink.
Am I thirsty?



Curtis Bauer: Poetry
Copyright © 2003 The Cortland Review Issue 24The Cortland Review