Spencer Marstiller




Los Angeles translates roughly
into a phrase about Iggy Pop and hairdressers
something of shopping carts
and running down a taxi cab
of typewriters and cigarettes
of the 1950s
of falling in love

it translates into a girl
and a tea garden
and the ocean
but not in that order

it translates into bicycles
and dinosaurs
and late night diners

into rumors of flight and parking decks
and palm trees

it translates into the disabled sun
into neon and asphalt and film
into the story of life after tidal waves
the story of naked bodies

translates roughly into
the beauty of angels






what I meant to say was
the next time we break up
it shouldn’t be for introducing you to john the musician
or for my inability to provide you with bright orange life jackets
or for a lack of circus tickets

it should be for not making enough lists

and then what I meant to say was
I have a list of things I’m learning to forget

and you’re laughing at the idea of learning to forget
laughing and not hearing the beginning of the list
which is

August to October
the silence of pause
the way we kissed
the time I didn’t spend watching your tongue translate the romantic

and you heard the word tongue
or romantic
and now you’re listening

the fan shadows that covered you naked
that water dissolves sunlight
the way you held me together like a nucleus angel

and now you’re not going to hang up

the phone that could’ve been a whisper
the window that was you sleeping
the hallway that remains you dancing
and the doorway that will always be your lips

and now you’re starting to change your mind

that I loved you once
loved you like a photograph
loved you like the song we played
the one you said hurt too much

and now you’re going to say something
something you forgot


there was an alarm and a ceiling fan
nudity breakfast shower dress
there was the car ride
blurry buildings
and the bird that flew through my open window


there were open windows

there was an office and a spiral staircase
there was mail junk eating
there were meetings
there was writing ads

there was I’m an ad writer

there were phone calls
and emails

there was the absence of a typewriter

there was breathe blink stretch
there was wind
there might have been rain
and passing cars

there was I sent you flowers
there was I called to make sure the card read
I will always love you
there was you’d always wanted flowers

there was I wish I’d given you a reason to stay instead


I want to be heartbroken
and broke
left outside a café
in the sweat
of a Prague afternoon

to survive on pens
and notebooks
poems for coffee
the words of a waitress
who speaks no English

she’ll bring me ice cubes
and smile
as I put them in my coffee
have toes and sandals
and dark eyes

and speak to me only
in the hidden dialects
of having unsatisfying Czech lovers
and swimming the Vltava

Spencer Marstiller, born in Richmond, Virginia, and educated at St Andrews Presbyterian College is now trying to "make it" as a screenwriter in Los Angeles. His chapbook, Typewriter Umbrellas, is available through St Andrews College Press.

Spencer Marstiller was nominated for Poets Under 30 by Ron Bayes.

Poetry copyright 2004 by by Spencer Marstiller.