Beachside Property | by Kevin Ducey

4 mins read

Shooting stars. Across the street the homeless shelter releases its guests for the day. They come walking up the alley singly or in groups of four or five. Some are dressed for work, some for hanging out all day – which is also a kind of work. Reminds me of the gassenzimmer in Basel, the shooting gallery for junkies, though here it’s alcohol. Record opium crop in Afghanistan this year. We’ll all be feeling more of our freedom for years to come. 

The Shopping Mall at Darien. “Then felt I like some watcher of the skies…” when we leave the house in the morning the stars are still out. Venus in the southern sky. Davenport says we fall in love with innocence, not lust, pace Sappho. What does Keats see in Chapman’s? Or Cortez in his Pacific? The wild surmise of a peep show? Platonism revealed indeed. It’s new, it’s big enough to get lost in, it’s lemon-freshened; you can row for days in my ocean, swing on my garden gate. 

Dante’s shadow. The souls in Dante’s journey recognize him as alive because he’s got a shadow. Vampires: shadowless. Maybe all those phony drop shadows one sees in advertising are only meant to assuage vampire fear. No, this toaster-oven is not a bloodsucker…. May still be a vampire though. (Just as Warhol wd have been proud to be called a toaster-oven, or generically, an appliance – still, he undoubtedly cast a shadow.) How often these objects of consumer desire appear drop-shadowed – hovering over smudgy gray – as though they, and not us, find themselves midway through life in a darkened forest, anxious for the arrival and friendship of the poet. 

Beachfront property. And there they went storming up the beaches, afalling from the windows, twisting by the pools, thinking up something cruel, (like) carrying water in slotted spoons, but if they catch you drinking, pal, it’s back to the twisted sister, the motley crue playlister in the basement. A million roses bloom there in winter. 

Labor in the sciences. First thing you learn is how subjective this science business is. One author gave it up after a harsh review and rejection from publication. It’s not the humanities where the bar is set so high the whiners are weeded out fairly quickly, and, pace Keats, the reviews will kill ya. Hand me a rivet, Anastasia. And what of the White Russians working in the Renault Auto Works? They could dream of being Romanovs, or the servants of Romanovs, as they hammered rivets. The Renault factory built better tanks than the Germans, but they were deployed individually against groups of German tanks. The Renault factory girl, Simone Weil, while daydreaming of the ideological dilemmas of Trotsky’s youth, allowed her industrial saw to jam. No matter: She’d learned to re-center the monster on her own, and the Renault tanks fired projectiles of pure speculation over the heads of the massed German petit bourgeoisie.

Kevin Ducey’s book of poems, Rhinoceros, is available from Copper Canyon Press. A chapbook of translations of Dante’s Inferno can be ordered from Cannot Exist – a press in Madison, Wisc. Ducey’s fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Crazyhorse, Sonora Review, AGNI, Stand, Beloit Poetry Journal, and other places.