Delta 7

A reading from the upcoming collection Scatterplot (Omnidawn, 2020) by David Koehn. You can find more about the author here. Thanks for the reading, David. <3


The first thing I notice? Your blue shoes.
Soundtrack of ​Teen Titans Go​ too loud on the upstairs T.V.,
The lanyards on the hinge, cordlessness: I choke on everything
These days. We walk and talk. Let me hold this up. I drink
Lemon water because I’m tired of sugar, tired of everything
I put in my body bringing death closer. When Bay turned three
He noticed the lemon tree first. How limbs underlined window sills,
Took stage center in the neighbor’s yard, guarded entry from the island between Delaware
And Eleanor. If lemons had cosmology the meaning
Of things in relief would be the source.
Somewhere along the way someone convinced me that lemon water
Changes the body’s alkalinity.
If you read this aloud, this will take seven minutes.
I am not certain this is the best way to spend your next seven minutes.
“What is your favorite kind of coyote?
Of lizard? Of seal? Of crustacean?” On our walks we see things.
Wow, 1 a.m.. Time is a loose pair of slacks.
As I write this the skyscraper
In the background oversees the woman in overalls
Folding laundry. While sitting on my couch. I noticed your t-shirt,
Not royal blue,
A flag for a decal of a golden pig the size of your fist.
I eat dried lemon rind to erase the bad taste
From my mouth. Every real estate T.V. show begins
With a shot from a drone —
A strip of film cut from Koyaanisqatsi. Koyaanisqatsi, the movie, yes? No?
“There are like a 100 restaurants in a two and a half mile radius.”
I’m almost certain the first time I watched Koyaanisqatsi
I was on acid. LSD never agreed with me, but I kept the flight
Going for over a year. I’m not sure where this is going,
Bear with me for a moment.
Not every room I walk into contains a pair of blue shoes. But this one does.
The gray pot seems either too far away
Or too close to contain the brown branches. The yellow
Flowers with apple-red centers seem apart from the stems —
Seem assembled pieces rather than a whole. Yet, from afar
The eye assembles background green-blue into sky
And places the heliot
Into mind and sets perennial thoughts adrift. Underneath pinkish paint
Of the body there is another painting, covered over, a texture
The brush strokes suggest, let me point this out, this and this and this.
The lettering on the pig, cursive, but I can’t quite make it out.
The builder made one of four light switches on the wall a dimmer.
He studied the overgrown branches of the orbital lemon leaning over the backyard fence
Like a many-eyed giant. I am mentally ill,
I was raised in mental health institutions.
This made self-diagnosis tricky.
Noticing just how off I am was not self-evident.
Live karaoke in small dark bars, when mostly empty, is both horrific
And heartbreaking. There is no wild left, there is no wilderness either. That’s not true.
I bought a Klee and burned it in an alley.
My son has a dime store toy,
Does anyone say “dime store” anymore?
The loss of the words “dime store” matter. The toy skull,
The off-white one associates to Halloween, with nonsensical stitches
For lips and a delta for a nose, when I squeeze it, oversized
Alien eyes, yellow corneas, black pupils, pop.
Here, I have the toy, here. Let me show you.
Eyes pop out of the skull, like a crab’s eyes,
Sink back. The toy feigns surprise and provides surprise,
And comes with the requisite “Choking Hazard.”
Chirm of the ice maker like the sound of the train in the distance,
Like the smell of coffee in the morning, contain the foreground
And the background —
What is always a minute away.
Time fails. Too tight of a fit tonight.
Any work when backlit is only a frame. No matter, thank you.
When Roger stops by to build you a new home
I do hope you share your best ideas. Bay pointed out
“Why does a skull have eyes?” Don’t mind me,
Next year I am going to erase the ​Book of Spectacles​.
This year the ​100 Riddles of Symphosius​. Here’s to your perfect cup.
Lemonade’s last stand says the podium to your chair.
I write, “Standing here I am embarrassed by your attention,”
I have no use for language
That describes life as it looks to me. My ideas mismatch
So I have to resort to stealing Rodins and drowning them in the San Joaquin.
In the foreground, a dark blue drum set,
A variation on gray plays a solo. Meringue, meringue, meringue.
To repeat the word meringue until the world loses meaning:
I have no choice but to love you.


David Koehn's first full-length manuscript, Twine (Bauhan Publishing 2013) won the May Sarton Poetry Prize. David just released Compendium(Omnidawn Publishing 2017), a collection of Donald Justice's take on prosody. David's second full-length collection, Scatterplot, is due out from Omnidawn in 2020. David earned a BA in Creative Writing at Carnegie Mellon and an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Florida.David's writing has also appeared in several chapbooks and a wide range of literary magazines including Kenyon Review, New England Review, Rhino, Volt, Carolina Quarterly, Diagram, McSweeney's, The Greensboro Review, North American Review, and Prairie Schooner.