4 Poems Titled Chet Baker

Jay Deshpande





When two people love each other it’s a sign

there are parts of the map we save for silence.

But that’s not Saturday night.

Your city puts its makeup on. It looks

at itself in the gun-mirror. It looks like it feels

when a great decade presses down

you shut your eyes.

You shut your eyes and think of going home,

of getting tucked in

by your animal companion.

Of being absolutely unrelenting about just one thing.







For hours I went up and down the block,

trying to decide whether to go in.

Eventually the wind came up and the traffic thinned.

I put my hand to the door.

Inside was an empty room, empty but for a white table

with a body floating above it.

It was my body floating above it.

I put on my glasses and stepped closer.

It was a stone being skipped and all its leaps at once.

It was a book being written in the process of being torn apart.








I know one house on the block is touched

by none of the others.

Unlettered, forever strikes me

as the terrible sound the bone makes

when it first kisses air.

All these years raving:

I was a bicycle on fire in a field

marked out for ghosts.

I was the light on that field, growing mild.

Or the thing some people call success

when there’s blood in their mouths.







The subway brings you to a room

where you are alone with the woman you used to love.

As you sit there unable to speak

she takes you in her arms

and softly lists all the things that have hurt you

in the last three years.

She strokes your hair and she lists them out in order.

When she is finished you can’t see her.

It is completely dark and nothing touches you.

You make shapes with your mouth.

You start to smell a history of smoke.



Jay Deshpande is the author of Love the Stranger, forthcoming from YesYes Books. His poems have appeared in Boston Review, Sixth Finch, Blunderbuss, Atlas Review, Forklift Ohio, Handsome, and elsewhere. Essays have been published in Slate, The New Republic, The Millions, and Jacket 2. A winner of the Scotti Merrill Memorial Award and Narrative’s Annual Poetry Contest, he lives in Brooklyn. Read more at www.jaydeshpande.com.