Jonathan Briley

We won’t cold brew malaise. I melted a safety cone and caulked the quadruple pane. Coupons are falling!
Dishes don’t wash themselves. I kept reminding the pilots to not slap at the dog when he began to squirm
and bark. Don’t let the dog use your inhaler as a chew toy. Inhalers belong in shirt pockets, co-pilot. Don’t
chip contact lenses. Abruptly recoil from sound. Some can make glasses break with a single tone. At the time
you trip on the stairs, instinctively put your arms forward. Close eyes, close mouth, close nose, close
Windows on the World. The slenderest glasses are always the hardest to clean. Hot water is best for assam
and arabica: when the neighbors are yelling you don’t go down. You know those kids playing baseball
might break a window. That kid will pay, the one in the stained blazer. He’s really full of himself. Caught
nothing but air in T-ball. Wear orange shirts to the continental breakfast. Launch the buffet out the window.
Get a running start and push as hard as you can. Shoot that fucker right out the window. Laugh! Just imagine
the hash browns and eggs and bacon falling onto a crowd below. They looked up and laughed! Waved,
flipped you off. Flip them back in good nature and chuckle. Who is going to wash all these goddamned
mimosa glasses? There’s always the weekend, push and pull the remaining carts. Tatter your dress tie into
a pinwheel and spin it like a helicopter. These people don’t know how to fall, tumbling blindly through updrafts.

Hylebos Creek

starliner buried underground

near darker dermis, ivory headpiece

ashtray on the dashboard

toy strata, solemn strata, lower dismal strata

found refracted eviction

roofing theropoda lifelike

inside red flyer wagon, encased fossil

furcula at an angle, glass case gelatin

turn microscopic. sample the windows of the bus

record etched channels where clothing seams imprinted

measure indented clay where resting used to be

leave microscopic. overall spine and pelvis, outside the bus

overall complete jaw, no missing teeth

wedded firmly to rock

coelurosaur without cage, freed pet

formica strata’s bouncing tacks

metal hill one click away, twenty stories tall

rusted less on the interior

thicker panes some bodies disintegrated against

Pierce County transit bus, inside, along

the yard where kindling was free to burn

on scrap steel, windows sagged free

late under three hundred feet of pressure

through and through, compacted steadily

air is granite. mom and dad strung silk

from flashing lights on the dashboard

filled an old tunnel beneath the city

lariat chromed and buried

a silent wick for a Ford

ash rumors

Three types of water fowl
were found in the fireplace this morning.
Their necks slipped from our numb palms
buttered with soap. –Get empty cereal boxes
to corral them on the hearth.

Wash them.

Three types of birds come back from the printer.
Feathers prefer woodcuts or calligraphy.
Our black hole likes to attract
hippocampus and altercation.
A sedan’s interior spackled with crushed PM.

A pet listens from inside the model PT boat box.
–Tamiya Modelling
A pet scratches from inside the Datsun trunk.
A pet found a perch on a new pelvis.
A pet eats lichens under the front porch park.
A pet chews at its own hang nails.

When the nightstand gets wet napkins are not useful
for schematics. Circuitry embeds in flesh,
mold spores, event horizons, ash dermis.
Circuitry persists in the ignition of hardwoods.

Several pets returned to fly
around the pilot light. Several pets
found the center of the galaxy, Andromeda, Ursa Minor.
Several pets happened upon a nearby war.
Be tidy for the one in the bicorne–
spot the shellac on the unreal figure.

Make new pets; collect cauliflower
for our taxidermist to use as stuffing for a brain–

South Tacoma Memorization

we flew up into the trees

to tie knots in collected red wires

we flew back down to where we were born

in a green ammo can from the army surplus store

we returned again to the swap meet

where Vietnam vets peddling circuit boards have been replaced by immigrants

we flew into a downspout the television cable is now drilled through

we looked at spider webs inside a hollow gray beehive

what is a simpler home than a discarded beehive? what does rent cost

to make your home inside a retired gray husk

felled from dormer eaves and held in a popsicle hand–

she ran up to you, holding the hive, hands sticky

then showing her in the garage, this is how you clean a revolver

and, can you look at these parts and know how to put it back together?

the old convenience store a block away is now a trap house

where our Brittany Spaniel was once tethered to its steps during a walk

the old banks of a neighboring curb have been graded under

no longer my bike ramp; power lines hang the same

C130s have the same noise with landing gear down

flying over mowed lawns back to their base

exhaust settles the same on southern facing roofs

and we fly back into trees

near the center of a retired cemetery

near no new dormers being hung

near no new holes being dug

noble gas, noble beast

printed over a dollar’s hieroglyphs.
printed on our molars, on our enamel.
printed on credits from Ursa Minor,
on our hang nails, our rooted crowns.
who’s there?
recorded anonymous on debit card mag stripes.
printed on one knuckle of a zoo’s prized nobility:

  1. skin cells of the swimming lake
    1. latitude
  2. misery dew point; wipe your upper lip on a plaid work shirt
    1. longitude
  3. boiling point; waxen bough too slippery to grip
    1. x-axis
  4. fist full of pumice; caress the face of one sleeping
    1. y-axis
  5. palms cupped broken windshield yellow jackets
    1. disorienting gravities
  6. drawer of slack wire with no frets to be glued on a balsa neck
    1. tons, chords
  7. skin cells in the wash basin
    1. cubic feet
  8. the smell of silk burning, ink burning on newsprint; linen thrown over a sleeping face
    1. kimono angstroms
  9. quartz, barbacoa, 1986 NASA
    1. Fahrenheit
  10. on the lake: transposed Santa Maria against skyscrapers
    1. knots
    2. terminal velocity

steady there, steady
with a carbine for the collateral.
who’s there?
the onion farmer– lunar trap in tears;
recycled potatoes on the half shell.
recycled helium lugged by its broker

keep her nose away from matches–
breathe without smiling around the corner.
douse the silicon burning near Digital Dakota barley;
track a gunpowder nose to its matchbook

gather around the noble beast converting to gas;
its hide inflated, tethers on hooves holding it down.
the laughter, the murmurs, the exertion, the economics–

human brain, stomach pump, exaltation–
who’s there, who knocks so long?
balloonist thimbles of dividends

helium taxidermy. eat from the mastodon for three months
but leave its shell intact, make it air tight to be inflated
for flights above Pangaea

— like us, floating upwards
towards a suspension bridge with sacks of coins;
rosy child recursions; spleens of dinars, lungs of rupees,
livers of nascent yen

pull out every last tooth;
who’s there?
cage a word behind clenched gums, the trapped moth, our fetus

tuxedoed for self-immolation, hollow and still;
a coin inserted between ribs to eject its toy–
christen the kicked stack of silver dollars;
long in the tooth, one continent split.
long in the hair, the division of an umbilical cord.
the rapid heartbeat, the slot machine, the oblong rapist;
the blown out candle in Lincoln’s bedroom


  1. nursery arrhythmia, kitchen shivers
  2. protect hemoglobin from live wires
  3. ancient salt cakes the embryo
  4. the necrophiliac next door prefers white bread
  5. able mistletoe, a compass traces the arc of spasms
  6. pet tarantulas bed in moss
  7. lip wounds split open
  8. costume cherubims, cracked telescope cell walls
  9. lichens, rites of waxen attics
  10. temples all day. smile as you play
  11. temple’s magnate, conglomerate
  12. wounds hesitate to merge, coagulate
  13. merge with the bath water
  14. merge with the bird feeder’s squatter
  15. merge with the bird bath’s water
  16. merge with a dental dam’s failure
  17. merge with esquire on sand pyres
  18. merge a livery horn with a cup
  19. merge soil with hounds
  20. merge metal with palates
  21. merge with the bird house’s spider
  22. lacquer canisters, colostrum
  23. the pelvic merged with the gastric
  24. sliced leather livers into shoe soles
  25. the pyre can’t burn leather livers
  26. we fire walk the pyre on liver slices
  27. we fire walk the esquire of the temple
  28. we fire walk atop WTC 2
  29. the pilot light is awake
  30. the pilot light is the first to ignite the hive
  31. i see terrible things for black widows nearby
  32. i see terrible things for axes swung against soft hides
  33. i see terrible things smashed against linen
  34. i see some figments banished to Io
  35. opal figurine, matter’s obsolescence
  36. fires in the history stable
  37. fires on the genealogy records table
  38. fires in the bunk below red shift
  39. fire ants will float in plumes on water
  40. fire from the gym teacher’s scotch
  41. so soft, the isosceles drawn under flowers
  42. so soft, the prunes within
  43. so soft, the eagle’s breast in dark matter
  44. so soft, each polyp burned under eclipse
  45. so elegant, chauffeurs tending to tripwire

the third estate

someone decided we would have the abortion
you laid on a table before me like i would deliver them

they induced labor and were ready with instruments:

with a metal cutting device and a vacuum
the orderlies positioned themselves at your sides
like i was the audience
each baby emerged and i looked close
i could see the color of their hair, far along
the color of their eyes; this seemed late-term
and reacting again, they were so small
but unnatural; eyes are never opened or so small–

two daughters
one had auburn hair, one blond
one blue-eyed, one green
somehow they were the size of tiny dolls
gazing back up at me, strangely
not possible–  they were breathing and blinking so clearly
completely alive like small birds fallen from a nest to a gutter
i wanted to reach down and lift one up to me–

and they were decapitated before my eyes
this metal cutting instrument held by an orderly moved quick
each head fell to the ground

in the dream i was crying afterwards
in another place, recounting this to my father
telling him, i realized we made a terrible mistake
a very terrible mistake