Three Poems

by | Jun 13, 2023 | Issue Thirty-Three, Poetry

Things that Barely Move

The continents. The hour hand. 
The arms of a cactus. Your chest 
while sleeping. Two magnets 
shaped like halves of an egg.
An egg. A spider that knows 
you see it. Love. A birthmark. 
The brain. Any play written 
by a sculptor. The two of us 
that day at the mattress store. 
Me, when I think about that day 
at the mattress store. Used cake.
The price of string. Candles. 
The skull on your bookshelf. 
Whatever the skull is watching.

Tumbler

The last sip of anything will make you thoughtful.

Sometimes a ring appears where we didn’t set a glass.

I lay my head sideways on an old book
and feel the characters moving.

Don’t worry, I’ll get to the lonely part.

When you were small, did you ever play with old toys 
so they wouldn’t feel bad?

Every animal but one is an engine of the sun.

From the day we learn our first story, we believe
we have one.

Here it comes — 
It comes here all the time, actually

The act of swallowing is the same as surfacing.
Finish your drink and tell me I’m wrong.

Now imagine some divine giant has put its cheek
to the roof of this house. 

Sometimes a ring appears. 
Which of us is lonelier?

There will be no end of the world 
we can’t get used to.

Trompe-l’œil

Who was first to trace a dead body in chalk? 
No one seems to know.  One book says 
it started as a courtesy for the press, a way 
to photograph a murder without the murder. 

But who was first to do it and why did they 
have chalk with them that day? 

It isn’t procedure anymore as it contaminates 
the scene. But an officer told me sometimes 
people go ahead and trace the body before 
he even gets there; they’ve seen it on TV
and think it helps. He says police call this
a visit from the Chalk Fairy. 

And once, he said, there was a witness who 
couldn’t find anything to trace with, 
so he used popcorn and candy which he later 
recovered and ate during questioning. 

I can’t decide if that’s artistic genius or just 
the loneliest thing I’ve ever heard. 

Nor can I stop thinking about that first man, 
because of course it was a man, who took
chalk from a sandwich board or a frightened
bartender. I can see him, a beat cop, bored 
but earnest, a young man with time to kill 
while a village doctor dressed in the dark 
and drove to town.

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