069.1: Daniel Carter:: Parable of My Favorite Number & How to Do, What to Say & Sky Filled & Seeing As 069

A parable instructs; its methods are pithiness, succinctness, and universality. So when Daniel Carter names the first poem of this week’s selection “Parable of My Favorite Number,” we must ask what it is that we are supposed to learn. Yes, there is something universal to a favorite number, but I doubt mine is yours and yours is mine. Even the title suggests paradox. Likewise, the title of “How To Do, What To Say” informs us that we will glean some greater insight, that the poet’s aim is instructional. But Carter’s short lines turn in and in on themselves and attempt to avoid a greater meaning and a larger narrative whole. We are reading, but we are not. We are learning, but we are not. There is both a sense of completeness and emptiness. “Parable of My Favorite Number” ends somewhat sentimentally, but what is that sentiment? Is it lamentation? In that same poem, the appearance of Sherlock and Watson suggests a mystery and that this mystery will be solved. It’s as if the work is pastiched together and these loosely connected clauses, albeit only seemingly cohesive, only serve to lead us down a path of endless forks and dead ends. To confuse. There is only one way out and the poet knows that but we do not, not yet, we can never expect it, and that’s where our joy as readers comes from – the discovery of meaning through juxtaposition, questioning, and deduction. Daniel Carter is our playful Professor Moriarty and it is our job to engage with him and his clever ploys so that we may be delighted by his brilliance and our own. Elementary, my dear readers. Nik De Dominic

Parable of My Favorite Number

My favorite number’s
Sherlock’s favorite too.
Asked who bit the dust,
do your diligence
and buy a lottery ticket.
First number: splatter.
Second: a cashier’s stab
at the mystery height.
My favorite candy’s born
of bullet holes, but for
true stopping power
I choose Bazooka.
If only Alpha Pegasi
was my daughter’s name,
we’d make her a mobile
of paperback covers.
Watson says What
names are left now
that the star is dead?

In the Case of Gone-
the only evidence admitted
admitted to taking the cake.
My favorite number’s
a dumb shark, a bought
gangster holding sheep
knuckles and clubs.
Sheep knuckles are camels,
horses, goats and sheep.
Horse race means throw
and only count horses.
My favorite daughter
counted like this: tell me
what loves the snow
more than rain, tell me who
swims but never gets wet.

How To Do, What To Say

Dear silver-shadowed
believer, dear silver-
tongued messenger,

I have forgotten what
it means to use a finger.
Once I called it stick:

Once there was a way, and my legs wouldn’t move that way. Take
a sheet. Coat hangers do. And emerging from cornfields, so
beautiful in noise: that’s what I keep trying to be.

What do you call the part between
my nose and my mouth? The space
above my head? Behind my feet?
The place under the house?
The box? Answer machine?

Please, there must be some word today.

Some people can
with only one
foot on the ground:

I call it gambling, this way one foot goes up on its toes while the
other slides backward. They call it walking, but I call it getting out
of the peach pit. Doing tomorrow when today’s not done.

Please, there must be some word today.
I remembered, I never strayed—
I’ve been good; I only fell in one hole today.

And this is what I found:

Mittens and mittens. A book about animals.

I sat between two piles:
what has human features,
what doesn’t move like me.

I’m almost all the time
like a weathervane.

Paid the price,
held out both hands.

Sky Filled

This is how I hope
it ends: lawn chair
tied to broken
car, car
covered with foil.
Me there.
Something held
up by air, ribbons,
oil wells, shell
with painted woman,
some new kind
of cloud. I would
love to see a bird.

Seeing As

You know I was born /
           Too gone to realize

Catch me on the crossroads— / Loaded
           down with dice. / You’re

just a lost boy—

Tell me, fallen / Moon, how
           the Devil / Got into

you, / How he hollowed

Let it do, / that broken plane. /
           & I do,

& I do.

Take, take away
           the bramble path— /

I write it a letter.
           I hope you’re there.

Call me on a corner
           phone / Slow & simple,

call me home— / I’ll carve out
           your words & make

them my home.

I’ve a hole
           out west, / I’ve my woman’s

name— / But my face is broken, /
           & my body’s the same.

I’ll be the shallow if you’ll be
           the deep. / & if it pulls

Fall down on it / If he calls
           you / Down on it / & lift up

& my body
           bodies against / What


Oh, noise— / I am gone missing

Find me outside
           my trunk of cedar, /

& it will make you
           see / The dove my cuff

Take down, take down