If you’d have told me when I was ten
all the mornings I would soft lap coffee
into a hand-thrown cup in the company
of women, I’d have never believed you.
When I imagined a future, tall and gone,
I only figured things would happen
once, my child mind missing a life
where things repeat again and again
until they lose their shine and the special
becomes expected. There are thousands
of snowy days and showers,
a half dozen cars, houses, and kids,
forty Christmas Eves, hundred dollar deposits, naked nights, and the mouse traps that pressure necks, the pliers…
Some evenings, after my walk of life
subsides, I am the salmon who, halfway
up the childhood river, leans to one side
in the rocky shallows, spent and still seeded.
As the mother bird who pushes their only,
last egg out of the nest for being scented human.
As the Olympic weightlifter whose knee buckles
on their final qualifying press. As one who dropped
their last quarter for the meter through
a sewer grate. As the becalmed crew who,
for weeks, quivers under each horizon breath,
praying for a pregnant mainsail ahead.
As the chef who chops off a finger…
If I was forced to pick a metaphor
to define this entire life, I choose
a single-horse wagon, a shaded road
that bends beyond a line of trees, rutted,
bumpy, a grizzled driver with whip
and brimmed hat, and an old dog
plodding behind, a leather collar on leash.
Sometimes, I’m the wagon, vibrations
rumbling up through wooden bones
and iron ligaments. Sometimes, I’m the
horse, shoed and thirsty, sucking the bolt.
Other times, I’m the dog, weaving
in a symphony of baffling scent, slow blinks,
a blind tongue. …
There is no such thing as a wasted year
in the one we learned to live without our loves.
That year must be named. They shuttered
shops and started teaching themselves
to teach others. The year was both brilliant
and abashed. They saw their handprint
on glass for the last time, a greasy shadow
left for decades of slog. And many had to hide
in the voided quiet, nothing but the clatter
of streams, homemade and mass-produced.
Not all paid the same price. The future comes
for us still, a sanguine celebration of subtle nadir.
There is no stopping it…
Husband. Father of four. Poet. Cyclist. Musician. Sci-fi enthusiast. Writes from Boston, MA.