Green Sees Things in Waves

By August Kleinzahler b. 1949 August Kleinzahler
Green first thing each day sees waves—
the chair, armoire, overhead fixtures, you name it,
waves—which, you might say, things really are,
but Green just lies there awhile breathing
long slow breaths, in and out, through his mouth
like he was maybe seasick, until in an hour or so
the waves simmer down and then the trails and colors
off of things, that all quiets down as well and Green
starts to think of washing up, breakfast even
with everything still moving around, colors, trails,
and sounds, from the street and plumbing next door,
vibrating—of course you might say that's what
sound really is, after all, vibrations—but Green,
he's not thinking physics at this stage, nuh-uh,
our boy's only trying to get himself out of bed,
get a grip, but sometimes, and this is the kicker,
another party, shall we say, is in the room
with Green, and Green knows this other party
and they do not get along, which understates it
quite a bit, quite a bit, and Green knows
that this other cat is an hallucination, right,
but these two have a routine that goes way back
and Green starts hollering, throwing stuff
until he's all shook up, whole day gone to hell,
bummer . . .

                         Anyhow, the docs are having a look,
see if they can't dream up a cocktail,
but seems our boy ate quite a pile of acid one time,
clinical, wow, enough juice for half a block—
go go go, little Greenie—blew the wiring out
from behind his headlights and now, no matter what,
can't find the knob to turn off the show.

“Green Sees Things in Waves” from Green Sees Things in Waves by August Kleinzahler. © 1998 by August Kleinzahler. Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC. www.fsgbooks.com

Source: Green Sees Things in Waves (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 1998)

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Poet August Kleinzahler b. 1949

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Living, Health & Illness, Nature, The Body

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 August  Kleinzahler

Biography

Often described a “pugnacious” and a “pugilist poet,” August Kleinzahler’s reputation rests on his jazzy, formally inventive and energetic poetry, though he has also garnered notice as something of a bad-boy literary outsider prone to picking fights with the establishment. Hailing originally from Fort Lee, New Jersey, and a long-time resident of San Francisco, Kleinzahler’s fame as a colloquial poet of “dive bars, greasy soup, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Health & Illness, Nature, The Body

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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