Saturday Jun 22

NebelJay Jay Nebel's poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Narrative, Ploughshares, and Tin House, among other journals.  He's the author of a chapbook, Loud Mouth, published by Steel Bridge Publishing Company.  His first book, Neighbors, won the Saturnalia Poetry Prize selected by Gerald Stern and will be published in 2015.


The Happiest Place on Earth is Norway

Portland never cracks the top
one hundred, though many
move here after visiting
between July and September
when the sun is out,
and those same people leave
because the sun is never out
the other nine months, and buy
into the wrong neighborhoods
because someone once wrote,
there are no bad neighborhoods,
and heroin is rampant here,
antidepressants, I use “rampant”
because my mother always says
rampant when talking about drugs
and you know she’s never done
drugs because she’s using
a word that should only be used
when speaking about murder,
the spread of disease, Godzilla,
I have friends, Christ, I have friends
who have inhaled pills and syringes,
though most of them are dead now,
their bodies opening and closing
like dryers in the Laundromat.


Thanks, nurses, ahead of time
for shepherding me into the vacuums

of blood. I stayed up all night
to barracuda operas, receptionists

tacking bags of plasma to the pegboard
before calling my name.

Today my veins, tomorrow
the Pacific Ocean. When one nurse

whispers, Let’s try the stomach-
Am I dreaming? That watercolor

of a parasol, the red one, the platelets
those painters are spraying

across the street, my niece’s bowl
of spaghetti turning over

on the sofa. Little frightens
more than two nurses

fumbling with my veins
like a pair of jobless teenagers

with a metal detector, scanning
a soccer field at night

for buffalo nickels, cursing
each other in the voodoo dark.