Mark Lamoureux: May 2019 Poet of the Month
Photo: Mark Lamoureux

Photo: Mark Lamoureux

29 Cheesburgers: #31 Deluxe Bleu Cheese Burger Plate, Cozy Soup ‘N Burger, Astor Place, NYC

            for Bill Corbett.





I go to the second church of the day, as I must,

            alone, & above

the nave of coffee urns—something I never noticed

            the handful of times I have come to this place—

is an actual backlit panel of stained glass

depicting two women wrapped in coiling cloth

            of cobalt blue proffering

a cheeseburger on a plate

            while their lower heaven-stretched arms

cradle a ceramic chalice of Cozy soup,

echoing the similarly light-filled

            windows of St. Mark’s on the Bowery from

whence I am come from your memorial, my eyes

            stung with tears—


now at the end

as at the beginning

when I first crossed your threshold

some fifteen years ago, just out of hospital,

only days before having watched

            the huge ruddy man in the other bed,

Chaucer’s Miller, toss the orderlies around the room like rag dolls,

howling & sobbing like an infant because he didn’t want to take

the pills that would make him heavy & dull

until finally subduing him they put them down

his throat & held his chin like a cat’s & then poured water down

his gullet from a ridiculously tiny

            paper cup.

Fifteen minutes later I heard him

spit the unswallowed pills onto the floor.  I didn’t take mine

either.  He begged me to bring him a plastic model car

& glue             please he said


I taught the empty-eyed kid

who paced to one end of the ward & back

            again all day, all day to make poems

by picking random words out of the Reader’s Digest

            Condensed Books they kept in all the rooms.

            Why did you arrange them like that?

                                                                        I didn’t

that’s the order I picked them in.  Fair enough

            poetry is the music

of chance; just days later I would be in your parlor

in Columbus Square & I decided to trust

            that poetry

would save my life & you were the king

of poetry.


Earlier today I am at the Wahrol retrospective

            at the Whitney for the second time, missing

my daughter, who knew the prints from Andy Land

the little book I bought her, signing more moo cow

more Andy Soup; please


            with my backpack with my laptop & keys

& presents I bought her in the coat check I can’t shake

the feeling something’s missing;

            I lose track of Geof & Karen in the sprawling

exhibition, take a picture of myself in the reflection

of a self-portrait of Andy with a skull on his head—

memento mori I tell myself.

                                                            Something’s missing.

Somehow I lose the plastic tag with the number on it

            to retrieve my coat & the backpack that I got cheap

because it has somebody else’s initials—IQZ—

            monogrammed on the front.

                                                            Something’s missing.

The first time I was here I stood with Amabel

 in front of Crowd Scene.  Peoples she cooed

peoples &

just a few feet away there was Laurie Anderson;

            I wanted to ask her to kiss my baby but couldn’t

summon the gumption—

Lou Reed is dead said a voice in my head.

            You are dead too; I wanted you to kiss my baby



            I used to drink when I felt sad,

which was all the time,

but now I buy things for my daughter instead & today before

            your memorial I bought her a little plastic watch

with an owl on the face,

 four pairs of little socks with the Peel Slowly

& See banana on them, a spherical strawberry-scented kitty

ball that slowly re-inflates itself

after being squishes & A is for Andy written by him

& his mama.

                                                Something’s missing.


Before I really met you I knew you

            from the photograph on the cover

of New & Selected Poems: smiling at the camera

            in black & white; behind you a telescope

pointed out the glowing window

toward the sky.  I recognized you once outside

            of Out of Town news in Harvard Square

& said Hello Bill like I knew you & you said Hello like

            I was someone you recognized

            but I wouldn’t find myself

at your table for another handful of years,

            just out of hospital, a week

after John Wieners died. 


            I turned 47 last week & bought myself

the Complete Village Vanguard Recordings

of the Bill Evans Trio & listened to Scott LaFaro

            playing “Gloria’s Step” over & over again—

the last recording he would make before he

died just 11 days later & I wondered what you thought

of the “You Must Believe in Spring” poem after the song

on Evans’ final that I sent you

just before you died last spring.  Memory gorges

            every single thing

you wrote in a “Shower in June,”

printed on a broadside with a photo

of Pres outside the Five Spot you inscribed

            “For Mark at Aaron’s 30th, 2004

which hangs just beside my front door & will be the first thing

I see when I exit the cab & unlock the door to my house,

            quietly, so I won’t wake Amabel

who will be sleeping upstairs.  Memory gorges

            every single thing.

                                                Something’s missing. 


I will want to listen to the Evans records again,

            but will need to wait until morning

because the sleeping baby; I will need to wait

until morning to give my daughter the socks, the kitty,

            the book, everything

but the watch which I will save for her birthday

            in May & I admit it seems a little wrong

to give a toddler a watch—there’s a point

            at which time becomes the enemy,

but I couldn’t resist the little pink owl.  Owls

            were also the favorite

of my maternal grandma Mabel for whom

Amabel is named & owls

            have been appearing everywhere

lately—in an Arthur Sze poem on the wall

of the subway I took downtown,

            “Coming Soon—the Owl

Café” on a sign on the smudged-out windows

of a storefront I passed when I was walking

            from the Whitney to your memorial

in the Bowery.  I guess my point is

            the dead remain

in our lives in ways we don’t expect

or understand.  A few nights ago two postcards

            from you & Gerrit that had been there

since you were both alive fell off

my refrigerator & landed face up

at my feet—there must be scores of postcards

from you squirrelled away in & behind

books on my bookshelves & who knows

            where else—I never really file anything

away & I guess now maybe I understand why.

            Memory gorges

every single thing.      Something’s missing.

            This may be the longest poem

I have ever written, meandering, discursive,

            I guess probably because I don’t want it

to end because that means somehow this

            day in which I said goodbye to you will have ended

but now

            the train has pulled into the station

& the conductor is telling me to please exit the train

            we all want to go home.

                        I pack my IQZ backpack quickly

& panic out on the platform.

                                                Something’s missing

but the doors close & the train rumbles

            off into the future.

Mark Lamoureux lives in New Haven, CT. He is the author of four full-length collections of poetry: It’ll Never Be Over For Me (Black Radish Books, 2016), 29 Cheeseburgers / 39 Years (Pressed Wafer, 2013), Spectre (Black Radish Books 2010), and Astrometry Orgonon (BlazeVOX Books 2008),. His work has been published in print and online in Elderly, Denver Quarterly, Jacket, Fourteen Hills and many others. In 2014 he received the 2nd annual Ping Pong Poetry award, selected by David Shapiro, for his poem “Summerhenge/Winterhenge.” He teaches at Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport, CT. His chapbook, Maris McLamoureary's DICTIONNAIRE INFERNAL, co-authored with Chris McCreary, was published by Empty Set Press on Halloween 2017.