Foul smells started tailing me: bandages,
tub fungus, singed wig. My clothes
went stiff, creaked like wicker.
I ran after busses. Got fired.
The committee cited
my artificial beard. Burnt orange juice,
sweaty prosthesis. I took
a dance class. They taught me to write
apologies in floor dust with my loafers.
I sought the old good smells
to no avail: cake shops closed in my face.
In the park some joker scrawled
names on each tulip in piss.
One day the smells transformed
into women I had known. Turkey shit:
grandma Meg. Wet pants
of the homeless: Mary, my babysitter,
wanting to know why I still slouched.
Dead snake in a barn: my first love,
Charlotte, slugging me in the chest, saying
fucked up good, didn’t you. She didn’t stop
there. Turned into a sled
on a snowless field in my hometown.
I sat on it (her?) to watch the elbows of hills
I had loved. Their hands underground grasped—
after what? What did I leave down there?
Snow on earth-old
hinges slouched down
brung its hundred
deaf thumbs brung
a burnt blueness And its one
spread its mute shelves wilted the roofs
with its night-in-noon
And quiet bells all day down
Beak Street till it wilted
your lightbulb your stale soup
And brung down through
its ceaseless dumb typing ACTUAL NIGHT
And there performed night-slow
flutterdowns to the mouths of plows
which mau-maued it
into flutterless hunching heaps
And so you woke to your town overtaken
by huge bloomed dunes of blue
The Light You Left to Look For
Mail trucks shave days
up and down
till each day is bare. Hanging
in trees: skinny light,
the light you left to look for.
for places you won’t find.
It’s as though you left
for work, snapping your fingers,
for your snaps. The mouths
of parking meters say
your body’s bald as minutes.
You search your pockets for change.
A recent graduate of the University of Alabama’s MFA program, Jeffrey Bean is the 2006-2008 Axton Fellow in Poetry at the University of Louisville. His poems appear or are forthcoming in Quarterly West, Southern Poetry Review, Willow Springs, The Laurel Review, The Eleventh Muse, Sycamore Review, New Orleans Review, and elsewhere. He is the first place winner of the 2005 Atlantic Monthly Student Writing Contest for poetry and a recipient of a 2005 AWP Intro Journals Project Award.