Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 2
Fall 2010

[Four Poems]

Chad Sweeney

The Audi and Its Driver

I watched a flock of swallows cross the rounded window glass of the Audi in front of me, and a green plane of clouds curved as the glass curved and fractured softly as though made of wool. I struck the bumper pretty hard. We were standing on the street beside our steaming machines flapping our arms and shouting. Imagine if you can her glasses filling with pink blossoms of the plum trees behind me. Then the flock of swallows settling in those branches.



Silence in the shape of
paper mills, cloudlight 

beats at the hills 
where cicadas in

	iridescent green armor
have agreed all-at-once 

to die,
the ghost 

of an Oldsmobile 
drags Detroit

looking for the lost garage of prophecy,
summer snow 
heaps against brick

subtracting what 

little sun we’ve gathered
	   from the vast empty 

spaces above Lake Huron,

the barely liminal 

of the branches, this 
snow-blind air 

between buildings, a future 
for which we 

are nostalgic, even the priests 
steal in this town,

even stop 
signs resent their placement, it’s 

dawn and the dead return 
to private intractable 


under white grass, where our 
trains and 

northering all-day geese
pass over.


Follow Me I Know a Shortcut

In heaven the unemployment office 
gives out free what?
That’s not enough to make me a Christian.

I flip on the TV to watch myself
from above, thirty years ago, 
running toward a line of barbed wire. 

My first day of kindergarten I had a welding accident, 
the horses abstracted by sheets of rain,
it’s not original that I want to film my own death.

This conversation is zoned semi-industrial, 
which is just to say I miss you
and the tire tracks you leave in sand 

with your little bare feet.
In heaven, the bus stations
have leather chairs and ottomans 

to rest your feet on. Big deal,
I want a poetry to rest my feet on.
For example, an early dirty night 

of Second Street, or 
winter begins abruptly at 7
with some ravens in goldleaf.
Love enables one to accept.
This is the official hand gesture 
of the 2012 Olympics.

Time bunches and folds 
when I see you coming
wearing nothing but your shadow, the 

balance of rage and sorrow so 
perfect in me, 
my mouth bows into a smile and the shoulders go 

numb and slack, a total paralysis from which, 
each morning, I issue down the steps  
and into the streets of my city.



I have a few favorite 
sentences which I pronounce 
like an owl 
caught in a cistern.

An owl caught in a cistern 
soon learns to hover 
then sleep in flight 
its reflection rippling darkly on 
the walls like a Warhol 
film aired 
in a porn theater.

And when by accident
a Warhol film airs 
in a porn theater the men 
are disappointed, then 
resigned, then hypnotized 
by time, until their mad little 
quiet down, they begin to smell 
cardamom and opium and lime 
as from a great distance.


“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury