» Poetry

Delta 15: The Definition of a Circle in a World without Geometry

The Rycoffs have planted blood-red batface along the edge of the walk.
They will get all the hummingbirds and butterflies

Next year. Push play. Of course I have to mention how my mind
Does not want to mention

This entire night, underscored by Wilco’s lines
“I’d always thought that if I held you tightly /
You’d always love me like you did back then”
Omits, as Mayakovsky would call her, the target.
My son, Bay, and I, walk past Thing 1 and Thing 2.
How many ballerinas

Does one expect to see walking the streets this late at night?
Death is always on the prowl: the near miss of Rusty

By the Home Depot truck in New York City
Brings the near misses back today:


My idea of the soul is a dance party with palm trees
Wrapped in foil. Dancing is flying and the music

Always sounds like the first time you heard the Talking Heads
Combined with the second time you listened to Velvet Underground’s
Self-titled album all the way through.

My third eye takes naps. Nods off without warning.
Right now, I am asleep with two eyes open.

The hunchback of Notre Dame answers the door of the house

At the corner of Harbor Cove and River. The inmate, in his prison
Stripes, holds his one-year-old son, also in prison stripes.

The scantily clad prison guard swings her billy club.
Oh never to be stuck in commuter traffic again.

We all learn, eventually, “don’t read the comments.”
Minions have taken over the neighborhood.

A witch doused in gauze cackles

From her corner of the walkway; a skeleton sits on our bench
Doing its best impression of William Logan, right leg
Crossed over left, right arm stretched out to the right, skull
Tilted to 11, chin and right toe pointed to 4.

A bottle of hand sanitizer, almost empty, cranes its neck
Over the edge of the second edition unabridged Webster’s
New International Dictionary, 1958.

Paul Manafort walks by dressed up as a train engineer.

The Rycoff family, dressed as the knights of the round table,
Ring the doorbell of the largest house in the neighborhood.
The head of the HOA, a former porn star, shows up at the party
As a 2007 IRS tax audit of Jeff Sessions. A guy with a bonfire
Wheel in his driveway hands out Heinekens. Push stop.

The definition of a circle in a world without geometry
Sources its etymology from the fleeing prisoner, innocent
Despite all the charges, born in Candé, France, a short drive
From the Collège de Combrée where he learned

How to love an older woman. Where she and her sister
Took him after the school day was over, but time allowed.

“Never trust the living,” said Juno, played by Sylvia Sidney,
In Beetlejuice.

The line, a set of lines, intersecting Sumi lines, outline

The idea of the face of a ram, ink drops like mistakes, like eyes,
Like the image of planets in a solar system, like orbits,

Like the beginning moment that determines the weight of a line:
Samhain, the stray red balloon, the “somebody start something.”

I dressed as a wolfman, Bay, a wolfboy. We howl because we howl.
This is the root of how the moon turns us. The skeleton in the red shawl
Escorts us to the courtyard. There in the 18th card, an owl in the tree
Sees two wolves calling down the partial moon.

There in the distance the Sierras wait all winter.
A mastiff dressed in a tuxedo walks by, pauses.


David Koehn

David Koehn's first full-length collection of poetry, Twine, now available from Bauhan Publishing, won the 2013 May Sarton Poetry Prize. He is co-editor of Compendium: A Collection of Thoughts on Prosody by Donald Justice (Omnidawn Publishing, 2017). His second full-length collection, Scatterplot—of which the Delta poems are part—is due out from Omnidawn Publishing in 2020. His writing has also appeared in several chapbooks and journals including Kenyon Review, New England Review, Rhino, Volt, Carolina Quarterly, Diagram, McSweeney’s, The Greensboro Review, and Prairie Schooner.