after John Ashbery
A pair of ravens stare into space from their perch atop a phone pole,
engrossed in the Brahms Double Concerto recording I’m playing.
They flap away just after the orchestra dissolves into silence,
leaving me with half a cup of black coffee and a morning haze
passing as anything but news, inelegant as a swerving Mercedes
or a woman serving Thanksgiving turkey in string bikini and heels.
It’s a chocolate ex-lax doughnut going somewhere to happen,
followed by a hint of potpourri. Life is easier with a meat cleaver,
but we’re not to alarm the neighbors or let them think we cook pets,
even if that always-howling dog makes coyotes think it’s in heat
and they circle past, night after night. As if all manias are alike,
copies of a wax-plastic figure—aqua whale, navy-blue killer whale,
bubble-gum mermaid—shelved and kept at a distance, sweetened
with corn syrup so they don’t drip too much bile onto the carpet.
Just don’t manicure the rose bushes too close. Leave some thorns
to remind from whence we grab. This isn’t The Bachelor, you know.
Jonathan Yungkans is a Los Angeles-based writer and photographer with an MFA from California State University, Long Beach. His work has appeared in San Pedro Poetry Review, Synkroniciti, West Texas Literary Review and other publications. His second poetry chapbook, Beneath a Glazed Shimmer, won the 2019 Clockwise Chapbook Prize and is slated for release by Tebor Bach Publishing in 2020.