On a joyful morning, you can trim
tray liners for a tool chest
when a Blue Ridge box cutter
slips bone-deep and decisive.
With nowhere to put the peeling slash,
you jab that rugged throb in your mouth,
smash the gash against your teeth,
throat a rivulet of your own.
Wrap it tight with cotton and tape,
fumble the levers to cleave free the tangle,
weigh the dash to darkened doors
where hands on the be-back-later sign
stand as still as a sandhill crane.
You didn’t ask for this cut. You didn’t ask
for this death that arrives from nowhere
despite your best caution, rakes you deep,
so deep you taste old blood on the inside
and the only way to heal is with time and air.
© Trapper Markelz 2021
If you enjoyed this poem, please consider reading:
There is a moment in the spring
when it’s warm enough to open the window.
You’ve been in a prison, but it’s not bars
on the hollow, it’s a cold winter.
And there isn’t a lock on your dungeon,
it’s a pandemic. You grew a beard
to convince yourself that things were different.
Should you cut yourself now
while those around you are stabbed
in a good way they don’t complain about?
We open the doors lined with stretchers and stones,
preheat the oven to bake our new goods
and share them again with many others. Return to the gathering…
I walk the house at night, suturing light switches,
collecting soldiers for the dark. The low drone
of a late-night cross-continental carrier
leaves contrails foolishly high as avenue lights
mark the idle evening rendezvous of our wildfires.
I’m awake because the gutter drips its drops,
a sparse tap of slow tune against my sweaty pillow.
Everyone wants something from me, even the Creator
who looks down from the shelf in a goblin hat,
plucks a lute, picks up a tambourine, blows
a slushy gasp over the lip of an old brown jug, a one-man band, a helping hand to write…
I could mess up my kids if I actually tried,
turn them away from my grasp into the cold hall,
promise them pancakes for breakfast
but force them to watch as I pour the batter
down the drain. Maybe I’ll cut their hair off
to save a dollar, ruin their clothes in the mixed wash,
unplug their chargers at night, and tell them
what they need to hear but add “just kidding”
to the end of all of it. I’ll withhold my blessings,
pin them beneath the pool for far too long, tickle them until they throw up their warm…
Husband. Father of four. Poet. Cyclist. Musician. Sci-fi enthusiast. Writes from Boston, MA. His work has appeared in Loose Words, Baltimore Review and others.