Two Poems
Nicolas James Hampton

Dear Marianne Moore,

I'm not sure if the book you began
is the book on my shelf. Terribly dry,
the heat of my fourth floor loft curls
pages to the edge of brushfire, and I can't
afford to use the AC. It takes age greedily,
but I live a secret life of youth that throws
no fat in with this morning's bacon, refuses
to come home at decent hours on the weekends
or weekdays that float bills on prayers
and guilts thick as bibles. Only the avian
songs from the college radio station
pull me toward the light that leaks
in through these blinds at noon, but soon
their funding will also dry and wilt
like something left in a vase by a woman
who saw it alive, and eventually dies on
your kitchen table while she's gone.

You have left this book on my shelf,
never bothered yourself to read it aloud,
and now it sits there like a gavel & jury,
a paper nests of WASPS. There's no money
for exterminators, Burroughs is dead
as is his wife, the brains. They rest in
peace on the shelf below you
and your book, comfortable,
I have no heart to wake. Those letters
are done. Sleeping, I can hear the courtroom
it's Pounding cantor and bad puns
in my dreams. I think you did this to us,
you left us in trial, in disposition
with breath and its natural length on the stand
in self defense & nightmares that wake
freedom in cold sweats.

Is what's written on my shelf what
you heard, what called to you, what
dressed you like a nun in a casket?
In Damascus, was there a brilliance
to this light? Was God a good fuck
with a voice that could bring an ear
to its knees? I think better of you.
I want to, at least, and the language
doesn't want to be alone anymore.

Language has been on the fourth floor,
a pedestal above
the firm hands of a carpenter, crying
in vowels too quiet to hear. If you
read this Marianne, and never reply,
never return, you should know I'm taking her
to the bar tonight for a few rounds.
It seems she's had a hard... well,
she's had it hard.

Nicolas James Hampton.

How To Clean A Carburetor

Pull her over to the shoulder. This will
take some force, she's not running, after all.
It will be the first thing you learn
to do; to keep the hunger clean,
to take apart what you've ignited;
to fix consumption. You'll develop an ear for
the intake, hear it without closeness, hear it
in the tight hands that hold on, without a sound.
Some day, you will know exactly where
her float is set, know how much fire is
enough, know when is the right time to
burn her off. For now, unscrew her
without touching her, imagine the difficulties
that may arise. There will be others, there will be
more. This is what it takes to run.
Take your time, nothing's running.
Start on the shoulder.