The Brooklyn Rail

MAR 2020

All Issues
MAR 2020 Issue

Goodnight, Rimbaud


I rush out into the street to be a stylish bag

                  Venus in escrow plus a pink

                            `  landscape spooned on toast

I also rush out to be a turd

              fan letters may be addressed to Kay Gabriel
                           c/o Turd Terrace
                           Brooklyn, New York

No autographs, please,

          I am only a famous bust!

"depicting Joan Jett or Rimbaud"

                  gossip the museum plaques, then break for lunch.

       The controversy renders friendships null and void,

              has resulted in a divorce, may yet bankrupt modern art

I do it for my fans, I'll kiss my chips now

                  I'll touch all my stuff before they bring me to heel

Riding shotgun on the millennium seaboard

                     I busted the Atlantic, oops


Double-parked in Sarnia, Barrie, Kitchener-Waterloo

          townships of destiny

                        and not a parkade between them

a "multistory parking garage"              Canadian English hiccups
                     international stars of stage and finance

       Margaret, Justin, Elizabeth

                  toothful bank towers     oh! big boys!

       hot pink armpits of Canada, you're number one

Dear vexatious reader:

I am not a Margaret or a rounded vowel

                     I'm a handsome idiot of Paradise
                     bearing good news:

I love pink

          I parked my car in that colour


Lady, I'm not Rimbaud, that's my roommate

              Mon ami, Rimbaud   he creams the sofa bed in pink jorts

Cranks the AC to 68 and puts on the National

Rimbaud smells of warm pineapple

          Heads out to shows with the gas on

   "Hey, man      what the fuck"

                         clucks the stove, soiled in bright blue hair.

His rent check bounces—

          "Dad moved some cash around

   I'll make up for it           fries on me"

Rimbaud sprawls in a diner booth making face
                     masks out of napkins and vinegar

I order the promised fries and a very magenta slaw

                  Malibu Arthur gets onion rings, extra pickles, a french dip
                           sandwich diagonally
                              sliced and the crusts cut off

       warbles behind his condiment sheets like a soggy ghost

When he sticks to the couch we take him to the cleaners

       Rimbaud comes back like a two-for-one deal     squeak! SQUEAK!

"Oh, Arthur"        he combs detergent out of his hair


Laundry day! start strong and hit the suds

          the city pinches its bladder shut till early Sat-

                           urday A.M. then lets er rip con brio

Oh     it's metaphysical!

   my boobs boing across Flatbush like two well-coiled mattresses

I forget which one is Kelsey Grammar

       from up here the boroughs look like a pothos plant

                  it rains on the skylight a sarabande pathétique in D

       Miss Long Nineteenth Century walks her poets on the beach

stuffs them in with her brights and shut the door

       between loads my roommate has lots to say

"Goodnight, Rimbaud"

                     "Goodnight, Aesthetic Education"


       O Captain, my Commuter Rail

Under pressure in the OR they rewire my head

now I'm:

  • left handed
  • beautiful
  • and never have to go back to Canada


Kay Gabriel

Kay Gabriel is a poet and essayist. She’s the author of Elegy Department Spring / Candy Sonnets 1 (BOAAT Press, 2017), the recipient of fellowships from the Poetry Project and Lambda Literary, and recently completed her PhD.


The Brooklyn Rail

MAR 2020

All Issues