Clay Matthews



Regarding My Sentimentality and Love of Hole in the Walls

In some barbeque joint off a state highway,
you understand I will smell of communion
when I go home, and at this moment the thought
of moist towelettes is too pornographic
to understand. I have been to the edge of reason
and you may be surprised that there were
no guardsmen there. Only a small river
and barbed wire strung across a long line
of two fence posts leaning against each other,
which is what you and I are doing at this moment
in some ways, which is a form of touch if we continue
to call it one. At the outpost of progress
they are pickling more things than you would
ever imagine—knuckles and hooves and okra
and the livers of large animals and in some cases
their own livers, and so I have learned
that when you look into a pickle jar you see
every greed you have ever possessed
or been possessed by, and every patient thud
of your footsteps across the floor as you
waited for nature to take its course. Vinegar
you salty cur I love you. I am pruning
for lack of a better word. And small hands
on ribs and small teeth on flesh and the smallness
of the moment is enough to propel
my weak mental faculties into nostalgia.
I’m waiting for everything to return again. I have
been made plump on ten-thousand stories
about the circle of life. If I am sentimental I am
only because you have made me this way.
I have been forged in the belly
of a weeping old man, posted beside a fire
that continues at a temperature slow and low.





Truant child from the photo album you are mine.
By absence I maintain undiscovered composure.

In calculator language all I have to offer you
are greetings and expletives and eternal damnation

in the form of a noun. Hell, I carry your zero over.
To be not photographed is to be not captured is to be

is not to be. Early theories of the cinematic gaze you realize
are nothing more than tribal fears of losing one’s soul

translated into academic tweed. I carry with me ten-thousand
faces, and in my dreams some nights they are put

back together. In stories of war we are disgusted
by those who take an ear or finger for monument.

I call this therapy for the broken hearted, a hope that it's easier
for memory to carry a dead fingernail than a dead man.

Truant child from the photo album your mother
is calling you for the portrait. We are lost in one way

or another. And by not appearing to you I appear to you
as much or more or less than stated otherwise.