Arda Collins

A History of Something
New Poems From the USA


For the pilgrims, turkey was what was in style.
They dressed up like guns.

Tonight, it’s macaroni with oregano,
tomato, and ham, and the kitchen light
comes from the butter and cheese. You’re
sitting where you always sit. Every night
at dinner you’re sitting with
the phrase, “down the hall,” because
you look down at the dark hall
from your chair at the kitchen table
and wonder if it’s snowing.

Your toes turn a certain way
and you say, “ears.”
You sit on the floor
and try to play cards, but
before you know it,
you’re smushing the Jack
of Diamonds and the Queen
of Hearts together and
making them have sex and also
making the Queen of Clubs
watch, thinking, Jack’s got that
weird little beard I always knew
he was up to no good four-and-twenty-
blackbirds the Jack of Hearts
would never do it with the Queen of Spades she’s
in a totally different plotline wait
till the king finds out.

You go to your piano lesson. You
stink. You try to play,
“Surrey With The Fringe
On Top,” for the entire
no one that will ever listen.
Walking home
at twilight, the city
buses you have no reason to ride,
you feel immoral,
just from walking
in the cold, smelling something
like smoke, and maybe if you
had a bus routine,
where you waited, and used quarters
to buy just rice to eat for dinner,
you’d be closer to god?