The Neanderthal Tongue

I am the pterodactyl of parataxis
Hippolytus said ‘the life of humankind is complete
misery’ Gorgias made a fist—in Tallahassee

I tripped highlighter shoes & laced shake
like a nasty crossover
quaking ankles on a blacktop

whole cases of cheap yeast we drank
barley barrels & barely ate
when the Gulf hurricane swang rain

I got a bloody nose wrestling Leo in his muddy yard
we let the chickens run off
they couldn’t have gotten far


fabricating Leon County grammar
while Scout Finch bobbles in a ham costume

pigeons duck viridian domes
underneath my fingernails after work

jumping dead Neons then a Pontiac
half-mile past the Lil Champ with cherry

slurpees & hot peanuts in a crackpot
I know only the Neanderthal tongue


towing broke-down Corollas then an Aztek
while Scout Finch ducks under a ham

tweaking Maycomb in a crackpot book
I only know Neanderthals & tongue

hot peanuts in a lot half-mile past the Lil Champ
blazing a bubbler of vermillion-purp with Leo

after work we chew on grammar
in a county where no one lifts a fingernail


high-stepping puddles in his spartan raincoat
Zay toe-taps Pegasus shoelaces
while his halo lungs thrust cloud nothings

a sun-void week of anguish
the frown-dappled shiver-people putter
parasols through a cold front miracle

minimalist pedestrians & hooded wanderers
quake in black jackets headed for church
bells & horsemen gallop behind the infinite

windows every thumb filing opus complaints
Nike regrets her face & humorless messengers
finalize the Dada movement by hurling apples

over Duchamp’s urinal & opening their vanity
consider this hermetic yowl poetic étouffée.

FORREST RAPIER is a recent MFA graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and is the winner of the Amon Liner Poetry Prize. His work has appeared in Best New Poets, Texas Poetry Review, Waccamaw, The Boiler, The Greensboro Review, among others. He is currently a lecturer in the English Department at UNC-G.