Jared K. Hayley has published poems in the Paris Review, Spinning Jenny, The Literary Review, and other journals. He teaches writing and works on guitars in the outskirts of New York City.
2018-2019 FINALIST, COG POETRY AWARDS
There Is No What Happened
World imposes world. The Russian dolls nest
]in a book-shaped box on a rotating shelf
in a ghost town. Feelings like encyclopedic acetates
peel your amped nervous system, blazing blue over
brown organs, to the pink musculature.
A new sense like a lamp, then like one unplugged.
How many more layers can you live?
Lymphatically, circulatory, skeletal?
Wrestle your ex-co-conspirator’s mediocre
abstract painting into the alley and swing that kerosene
in your mind, remembering when you really did.
String them out, the flickering sequences,
strung out, hung over a history of angry
synapses. If you must have a past, grieve
by scooping up some coarse cork shavings and shaking
them stoically over any spill of burned, blacked oil,
long leaked, long pooled from ten engines' reaches.
Repeat a ritual you want hope to understand.
Kneel to see the little mound soak black, live life.
How can so much whole-hog come out
of the ground each day and just sit there
pretending it is good at pretending,
drying its gruesome membrane wings?
I try nightly to make it out
though the tremolo won’t pass
the universe between window and blind.
Past tense, sun blare, black peal, to-do.
With no repeat performance scheduled,
the clangor of great scenes dies down
like a pendulum on a struck stage
striking feeding-back microphones.
More weight is what it needs, this
or that incapacitates me. More light,
more heat, it will lose. The abrupt
is rampant: mouths, dead ends, the Leonids.
Vignette Before a Yarn
The skull of cloud-cover blends its washwater
hues like a sentence whose verbs have been whited out.
The silver-haired groundskeeper, wool cap in hand,
sweats and avoids his own maze-craze shoe prints
through the weather-pocked, mumble-mouthed tombstones.
Not a sound, trees branch against the backs of billboards,
against any remembrance but the traffic’s cogent theme.
A wind lows someone’s tired beat near. Shovel
scrape, apparition, shadow of falling gravel.
Now let me tell you something.
Inventory of an Experience
Shaking off the cold
coming down of night’s
I entered the pine wood
room. Clusters of photographs
hung from rafters, not the walls:
disarticulated human remains
on green hills. One window drew
the eye to the end of the room
and the dark river it framed.
In the river below a fool
wearing my clothes writhing
in a swarm of bank weeds rescued
himself and staggered past.
A literature of crows amassed outside
in a metalepsis or maybe a contagion
of clacking. The door of a sound.
Ready to confess, I stood
with my back to the wall.
An insect god, the hundred white eyes
of the backs of the photographs
stared at me in a hungry way.
Erasure not unlike the aura
that precedes the headache
and the mercy. One more time,
the river, the bank, the weeds.
Oh, plastic statue of youth, smooth, naked as news, cast
down, you lazy soot-brick airshaft guard, ankle and wrist
ended, geek posed, twee, too awkward for interment,
your twelve-foot military fence has broken open
a bottle of rotgut and wears a garland
of shimmering, ravaged audio tape.
Such a patient conductor: boiler, sump pump,
pipe spasms. Incensed hiss. Delirium tremens.
It’s true, each essence escapes from its conduit.
The sky in razor wire. Painted window. Sucking
drain. Gagging hose. Communication cable. Drug
tool. Light with no switch. Things we live between.
White Wall Phase
Because it is akin to tending the fire
to stare at the spackle and plaster cracks
and the blunt instruments of lightfastness and fade,
because the turgid pine sapling
unsocketed its serum-sticky needles
in slow self-immolation, soon after
I nailed it to its spot on the wall,
because it took two days to knife
the staples free from sheetrock without tearing
the magazine clippings’ countless corners
and hold on to some sanity at least,
because gone at last was the obsessive
collage that for years had swallowed all wall
and ceiling, leaving only the window and rug,
because once things really got going in that room,
they took and took just to take.
Sure, mirror-balls probably rotate slowly
in my old loves’ new loves’ rooms,
but here, panes of sun scan for life
across the blank calendar of my arctic,
lighting every pinhole hovel,
clearing out the old, untold interiors
so the room’s ribs might feel some warmth
and know their own skin again.