A Comforting Return




On my desk, two silver and black pens—
Zebra pens—wait casually at weird angles
for the beginning of something         And
in one of the corners of the room,
a ghost-silver guitar fashioned after a horse
sits on its stand, more bewildered
than mercurial        I wonder if it’s sad
being with me—being my guitar—since
the sounds I make with it are not the ones
it might have expected to be making
when it was being assembled in the factory
in Mexico       It might have imagined, and
reasonably so, virtuosity or centaurs or
signal awareness     Some people play guitar, but
I make a mess—which is also a kind of play, I guess,
though perhaps not in any traditional sense
of what’s called “playing the guitar”         Tradition’s just
custom passed down from afar, whereas I want
to lean in and bleed       Right now, Ordinary
Corrupt Human Love by Deafheaven echoes
through the autumn leaves of my shoe-gazey house
Agnes makes pancakes or avocado toast        And
Melanie’s one more day in Spain        I can’t wait for her
to be home     The Zebra pens can’t wait       Deafheaven
can’t wait      Nor Agnes either      Nor Bear, the dog
But the guitar does wait, its sparkle contained,
though always at the ready to run the wild prairie,
feedback, pick scrape, the mind’s cursive looping, and sad
impolitic upper register ping       But who am I kidding
Westwood Cincinnati isn’t wilderness at all      The grrring
and the barking of the neighborhood dogs—the grrring
and the barking which are mostly my own—
blend into the fabric of poetic theory,
which is whistling in the breeze     But wait
just a second, dear reader, back up




Today is Saturday March 31st, 2018
“A comforting return”—the title of this poem—
is Russell Dillon’s phrase     He wrote it to me
in a letter so philosophical and quiet off-kilter—
off-kilter in an open-hearted, generous, weird way—
a letter about poetry, and pinball, and Jawbreaker,
the “small comfort” and “amplified panic”
of friendship, of poetry and spirit, the future
and heaven       Coincidentally, I mailed a letter
to Russell on the same day—yesterday—
that I received the one from him to me
I can’t remember now much (or most)
of what I wrote, but I included a copy
of “End Zone,” my translation/obliteration
of Apollinaire’s “Zone,” itself a poem of awe
and surreal dislocation(s)       For Apollinaire,
the 20th Century was a marvelous invention
For me, the 21st is a light in my palm,
one that I’m always a little fearful of walking into,
since obviously it’s the ending of something that’s close
I will not live to see the 22nd Century       Russell’s
letter ended with an image of a thousand butterflies
flying “straight into the sun—either that
or into a vacuum cleaner full of swirling glass”
“Big love,” we both wrote, as a way of signing off



This third part needs to be a black hole/
new thing     Headphone tricks and my new fave
King Krule       All the Ooz that’s fit
for the moon     Let me write it out first by hand,
and then later type it up on a brown paper bag—
the one they put the records in that I bought last night
at Shake It—unless, of course, I forget
and type it up on something else instead,
as in fact I’m doing now       Anyway, I do shake it,
as much as I’m allowed, because what I love’s
the Venus Flytrap motion I can whisper in the meadow
I can whisper to the cows      Or stand on my hind legs
at the window and growl, barking-drunk at the squirrels
in the clouds so subversive       I unleash my heart
with great feeling for the sun—the sun
which is NOW after rain for many months, re-
accreditation, nightmares in loops      I need,
going forward, to be more than my predicament,
rising from the heavy-water centrifuge of ashes
Lies and flies and dynamited passions
This desk where I’m typing is a promise to you
to love and love harder for the rest
of my days—the people who love me, the people
who I love     Tomorrow’s finally Easter
and April Fool’s both      Guess which kind of man I am
For now, let me leave you this extension of myself—
high in the air, of gluey melancholy, I barrel
through a thunderhead, then roll into a darkening deep
to make my way with light and noise,
and embrace the weird glamour of banality
and soft      I can’t wait to sing again the refrain
Big Love is how it goes to the curtain




Matt Hart. Photograph by Erika J. Allen

Matt Hart is the author of nine books of poems, including most recently Everything Breaking/for Good (2019) and The Obliterations (2019). A co-founder and the editor-in-chief of Forklift, Ohio: A Journal of Poetry, Cooking & Light Industrial Safety, he plays in the band NEVERNEW and teaches at both the Art Academy of Cincinnati and in the Pacific Northwest College of Art’s low-residency MFA Program in Creative Writing.



read next: Lis Anna-Langston, “all of my days were nights


“A Comforting Return” appeared in TLR: Contents May Shift (Summer, 2020)