National Poetry Month, Day 30: “Out of Office Reply: Why Do You Seek the Living Among the Dead” by Joseph Harrington

By

Joseph Harrington’s Things Come On was the Rumpus Poetry Book Club selection for March. You can read the Rumpus Poetry Book Club’s chat with him here and Camille Dungy’s essay on why she chose the book here

Out of Office Reply:
Why Do You Seek the Living Among the Dead

Scene One: The Hieros Gamos

“I am 5 cards on a stick in another state”:
the wings, like an albino cave bat’s,
growing from both sides of his head
show he’s Mercury. At this,
he turns into an anime character –
a Texas boot with an enormous cock.
She says Don’t feel bad, he’s a god.

They’re supposed to be married –
I insist they go through with it;
outside the church he goes “nothing doing, sonny –
she’s mortal”; so he moves faster than sight –
briefly blurs the page like One of the Fantastic Four –
dives off the edge of the roof, divides into slices,
shuffles, and is skewered.
This strikes me as an “augery.”

Scene Two: The Ah-Ha Moment

So that’s why we live in the semi-carceral
cottage in Wisconsin by the Irish Sea.

Scene Three: The Up-Shot

In the line of departing cars, a souped-up Audi
tries to zoom around a minivan,
crashes into the iron gate,
zooms around a minivan,
crashes into the iron gate,
same way, each time again.
She affects not to notice, just
smiles sweetly and says,
“Shut up and deal.”

Joseph Harrington


From time to time, The Rumpus publishes new poems. Check out this multimedia collection of poetry we've published. More from this author →