Two Poems by Joe Hall


Da Fugue Zone Vol #37: Stock Keeping Unit

fugue, all you said we could do was dodge through
one more day without hurting someone
in our panic looking through the ventricles of the city
the spirals and eyelets, the long-fingered clasp
days passed like rain or vapor from the dryer
where you put before us a meal, a steaming
tray, heaped with knuckles
would I say I was deskilled
in a long now of stocking shelves
would I say I had misplaced so much life
the sun breathes, massive, obliterating
who knew how to hold themselves
how to hold their ache, who knew
the oil of fugue in a bottle cap by the fan
the laces of bus routes in the grievance file of heaven
there it always is
in Da Fugue Zone
the Fugue Zone #37

Da Fugue Zone Vol #86: Poor Food Baloney

my kid baloney anomie deep in the mist down where couches slouch
in the mind, where to be less lonely, mix milk w/water
w/I don’t have any money to mother
and now must eat what I have pictured
dear power, dear reader, we’ll change
who we are won’t meet
dear mist,
dear vapor burning off into
the long hall of this life, the sleeves
of saltines, my tongue’s rasp across salt,
corrugated edges, I could stand straight up
in peanut butter, add a roof
we ate sugar

on toast, butter between two
slices, ketchup w/o eggs
the days’ yolk bleeds across calendar squares
summer storms break across this house
but only, it seems, when we are curled in sleep
and a chord hangs in the air
the full unhurried note
before the bottom falls out
dear friend,

what was I afraid of?
what I was always afraid of, I could see
how well you loved yourself
tho you, too, never had much

Joe Hall is the author of five books of poetry, including Someone’s Utopia (2018) and Fugue & Strike (forthcoming). His poems, reviews, and scholarship have appeared in Poetry Daily, The Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day, Postcolonial Studies, Peach Mag, terrain.org, PEN America Blog, Poetry Northwest, Ethel Zine, Gulf Coast, Best Buds! Collective, and Eighteenth-Century Fiction. He has taught poetry workshops for teachers, teens, and workers through Just Buffalo and the WNYCOSH Worker Center.

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