Sleeves, Smoke


by Geoffrey Hilsabeck

He went south in search of something he saw
sleeves at the elbow, smoke as an instrument.

Little green, red, and blue boats, snug as shoes.
South. Buys his flowers from a grocer.

Shoes: his simple mission to honor the life
of things. Hard bench of life, sit on it.

His brother will be buried beside him.
How he talks and jaws to the dead stars.

Paints sunflowers for Paul, hangs them, waits—
great multicolored crowds of life, corners here

and there unfinished, reworkings, roughnesses:
he went and the stars in search of something

bury themselves beside him. Their jaws.
No system, shoes at the elbow and under the sleeves, smoke.

Hard bench of life, nails in it, nails on the wall
where pictures hung, nails in the shoes of the poor.

Where the stars jaws shoes systems become smoke
he waits but it runs from him

that high yellow note, genius of the French geographers,
so rare as to seem a mistake

so free it reminds him of flowers, or boats in a tub.
Sit on the edge of the tub, honor the little boats.

He went south in search of something he saw.
He found there a way to talk about flowers

and boats and stars. Used instruments.
Little green, red, and blue instruments.

This tale reminds me of my brother.
Boats in a tub. Friendship, that free form

of relation, a simple and poor geography, done
in the rough style of if you get there first, wait.


About the Author:

Geoffrey Hilsabeck is the author of Riddles, Etc., (Song Cave, 2017). He writes about some of the work in the book for The Paris Review Daily here.

“Sleeves, Smoke” was first published in an earlier version at We Are So Happy To Know Something, an imprint of Doublecross Press.