Selected Poems | Ryan Saul Cunningham

Like the philosopher’s difficult handwriting. . .

Like the philosopher’s difficult handwriting,

Popular in certain traditions, history

Ultimately turns out the same, slobbering

Over a six-string July in the shadow

Of the granite Menhir by the doorway

Menacing us with a fluttering eyelid –

A fine friend, always telling you

The way he could feel, that ironist.

They love to sit and stare at the people

And the hot fried garbage, fruits

Of our so-delicate stratification.

And not even the rhetoric of journalistic

Social science will take that away from us.

We do everything correctly the first time thru’.

I remember them growing more vigorously in the past. . .

My friends tell me not to feel too bad

For the time away from the page, participating

In obscene, shadow-hushed rites

With domestics and persons of no fixed residence

But it’s less than a good thing

And I can’t credit memory like before,

What with the near cosmos a mystery, plants

And animals swelling outrageously, or not at all.

Maybe you’ve seen the rhesus macaques

With their pancake faces staring at you,

Pulling the water stops from your pickup?

And now it’s really coming down hard:

The monkeys flee a rampant tyrannosaurus, one

Pulling your keys from the ignition as she departs.

Good News Everyone

But that species of Protestantism wouldn’t survive
Long-overdue changes to men’s neckwear practices,

Much to the relief of the taciturn Swiss laboring
Under high stress conditions in tight-fitting collars –

Though at the time they gave no thought at all
To the forthcoming age of the plunging v-neck t-shirt

With its naïve politics and diluted cocaine;
To them, it seemed spring had finally arrived

After an overlong hiatus: green grass
Spread to the very lip of the stony tomb

From which we emerged an intermediary deity
After a couple nights’ rest, having by then lived

A man’s life, waking at dawn to feed the chickens,
Repenting our youthful transgressions, living

A quiet existence in rural Minnesota, dying finally
When no donor of matching blood type could be found.

Ryan Saul Cunningham’s work has appeared in such alliteratively-sequenced publications as Prelude, Potluck, and the Portland Review. He is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in comparative literature.