William Cordeiro
Covering Mark Strand
& Weldon Kees

The Couple

in the manner of early Mark Strand,
after Edward Hopper’s Cape Cod Evening

The years have long ignored
this white two-story house.
High wild grass leans in
right up against its door.

And yet this couple’s life
has passed in barren rooms
amid blank walls, one bed,
as husband and his wife.

Their collie looks askance,
despite the man’s imploring.
What motion or faint pitch
could hold the dog’s sharp glance?

Nobody ever knows—
it’s off the frame’s cropped edge.
Bare window-shades all pulled,
each fixture tinged with gloss,

the sunlight slowly tapers.
She casts beyond the gloom;
his eyes touch things half dead.
The sky’s last purple vapors

have laced through shadowed trees.
Vast dark invades their space.
An empty heaven strikes
the field as if a sea:

a final scythe of brightness—
then silence, stark and formal,
in which they almost feel
not happy, but polite.

A breeze hints of the cold
at summer’s gentle close
and waves the seed-heads off,
each vanishing to gold.


Robinson on the Bridge

after Weldon Kees

The poet Weldon Kees,
who’s jazzed up as he tosses
back another gin, believes
the world’s shlock-full of dross;
there’s no room left for soul.
He’s driven over heartlands,
through tunnels, paid his tolls—
he’s had enough of blues and
the past blears in his rearview.

He wishes all his troubles
might simply disappear, but news
of distant wars still garble
ads on the radio.
The air turns dead
at last. He’s low
on gas now, so he dims his head-
lights; parks his auto. With a leap
of faith, he strides the bridge’s rim
while glancing down the deep
at waves as smashed as him.
His punning namesake keeps
rattling inside his pants.
Well done, he thinks, like meat.

Even you, Robinson, can’t
two-time a self-made solipsist.
Tall stories of cities dull
in a shadowed small ellipse
of hellish, haloed light—you’d fall
in love just playing telephone
alone then slowly fade away
into some movie house, undone
by fog and solitude. One day
with Crane you could just go,
another heart that’s lost
at sea, dredged up in Mexico.

Though Kees may be exhausted
like seaweed slurped ashore,
one Robinson’s alleged aloft
and stops one moment more
then step across the gulf.


Jon-Michael Frank has work published or forthcoming in Anti-, Inter/rupture, Sink Review and Sixth Finch, among others. A chapbook of poems is forthcoming from Birds LLC, and another chapbook, of comics, is being released by El Aleph Press in 2014. Jon-Michael is also an assistant editor for the small press BIRDS, LLC, helps run a reading series in Austin, TX called Fun Party, and sells illustrations about life, or the lack of it, on etsy.