Now, the Grundig in this dealer’s window screaming,
the silent oval speaker like a Munch,
and I hear it on a Sunday as I best recall:
that bathroom in that prefab, that trick of cupping
water in that comrade season, darkness
a must without power, the add-on
for cook and cleaner capping the louvers for life.
Could have been then, mid divorce’s tamarind season
when we felt so damn boxed in:
Charles and Phyllis splitted but still unioned
in our young range-finding minds. Perhaps.
Could have been the year we moved
with our mother, took pause down plain,
too close we children felt to homes
with legs and shingles, decks with iron rails,
none of this Georgian—just old,
just wood smell, just cellar,
just rafters with no clothes
and we were moderns—could have been that year.
What’s sure is I was kneeling,
plump pink-soaped and worried,
facing a pipecock struck dumb.
Half offering could buy cut cake,
just farfetching. For sure my thoughts were heard.
I whispered godforgiveme godforgiveme
then it came—the hiss, soft come-on
from some near but distant district,
and I prayed in precognition
of the what’s-to-come,
the chek-anticipating boff,
the crawl in dust
and coiling up to ackee bough
of what should not be Sunday heard.
I spat in my hand middle
tried to streak Palmolive off
agitating/agitated, guilt unconsoled,
and nothing from the faucet.
The rest of that moment? Forgotten.
My mutton legs? Grown out.
Greed? Still work. Now, this
dark wood record changer,
belly for the LPs flat and good.
In a tree lit with pods red like apples,
that thing I heard that day,
Tannoy of the dubman,
white steel flared long throat.
Maquette, serpent skull and jaw.
Uh luh luh luh, peculiar kissing, tot-felt synesthesia,
scent of long hellos and shade of pink
that made a helix in the mouth,
weird but not wrong those tongue greetings,
good shocks they’d bring, Pentecostal shivers
and stoic Anglicans we were.
Now here at Nurse’s column uh luh luh luh
palming scabbed enamel on her noon-hot gate,
warping thing lock-heavy like a Paris bridge.
Nurse needs help with her toddle.
Basil odor leads her from the shade, and she comes
in patient revelation: skin like her crotons,
face cross-sectioned cabbage rose.
To me I’m no strange arrivant
but reliably myself,
boy who hustled hug ups
from his mother’s friends.
She asks if I’m the chap
who brings the thyme.
It’s not owed to anybody—
Uh luh luh luh. Incoherence.
Lurking music in the mouth.
EMDR: Track 1
It’s the episode of dengue where the boy
lay slumped on daybed soaked,
and I’m with him on the back porch,
fanned by breadfruit leaves.
Chained ferns circle, as would pyrotechnics
A word comes. Frowsy. Remembrance
seeps out seventies’ scents,
rum liniments, stewed lights,
cook-down liver, placemats (vinyl),
album sleeves (cardboard),
horse shit crumbed in clay pots
dimpled with thumb prints.
At sundown dyed horizons,
skirls of passing peanut smoke.
I’m gone, the boy marooned.
Detach is what was asked before
my ears were muffed with Bose.
And so it was I could console
my me not me, my was that was
so meagered, marooned,
and turn as Gilgamesh from
struggling to breathe.
My mix has always been comedic,
what occurred told absurd
as if to match the age’s flares and fringes,
slant berets, patch pockets, Jesus sandals,
unembroidered guayaberas, suede chukkas,
reggae, afros, dreads.
Once in bed I snuffled. There was good dub on,
moody, atmospheric, songs grinding
on themselves till flotsam, echo, echo,
everything afloat, as if Tubby’s
ghost was organizing from history’s
bass bottom, history, history, sea.
Another time in Narragansett,
a winter. Puppies frisking off leash.
I had the urge to walk behind
them, mash up patterns.
I said ok I’ll tell,
but, my funny may/could
come forth tragic,
and Nurse sad drinker
made Humbaba myth.
EMDR: Take 2
There’s a hint of tryst in their
meetings, man, woman, couch
chair, her necklace from Tibet,
gray cascade, fugue music,
incense, low lights.
He feels awkward if he’s early
and another is there.
He keeps coming though
skeptic though her method has initials
plus a name. He just knows
her skin has crimps
She takes tea with butter
when he dreams.
Colin Channer’s most recent book is the poetry collection Providential, which Eileen Myles describes as “one of the most lucid and telling poetry books of this exact time.” He teaches at Brown University.