Why not dance aerobically in pink tutus with the archbishop while stars do-wop in the sky as though some heavenly disco had dropped the velvet rope like teenage boys drop trou and let the world all in, like a card game where you don’t know whether it’s poker, go fish, or duplicate bridge, but you toss your chips on the green felt anyway, absentmindedly scooping onion dip with one, hoping aces are high and don’t just mean you’re the old maid again.
Do people ever say it without irony: “why not” without inflection, unselfconsciously willing to try starfishing right off the pier on a moonlit night like that kid on the movie screen tossing hope into the sky hook line and it won’t sink us. Who could love in this world if there were only marching and no tap dancing with abandon, so let’s all carry pink tutus in our just-in-cases, along with peanut butter and jelly and champagne for the road that leads us up, unspooling from one single petal into the whole wild field.
Kathryn Paul writes poems in order to examine big things in a small, focused way, always with compassion and honesty — sometimes with humor. She lives and writes in a tiny apartment in Seattle. Her poem 725 ft2 is included 4Culture’s Poetry on Buses: Writing Home Online Collection.
We spend the longest night of the year together,
chain-smoking on the bleachers
at the high school softball field,
our backsides frozen even through our jeans.
Cars speed by on the main road, their headlights
fading like starlight over the hills;
small herds of deer move in the dark
spread out behind us like black silk sheets.
You tell me how your wife has grown cruel
and bitter these last few years, that
even the daughter who shares her blood
and yours will not be enough
to keep the walls of your home from crumbling.
There is a shame that dwells inside me
like a winter wolf, hungry for the hot soak
of blood against the sharp,
white towers of its teeth.
I want those words to be as true
as the flight of the arrows you taught me
to fire into the beating hearts of rabbits.
When I shiver, you offer me
your sweatshirt, thick
with the scent and sweat of you.
Your hand lingers on the curve of my thigh,
wedding ring blazing like a comet
against your suntanned skin,
and I know that all I would have to do
is turn my head and follow you
into the night, beyond the reach of the streetlights
and tires and blaring radios.
I think of your wife as a minor goddess
tending fires, her pale hands thrust deep
into never-ending seas of soapy dishwater,
scrubbing grease from the sleeves of your work shirts,
cutting apart thick slabs of roast for your dinner,
her flannel-wrapped body sliding under blankets
in the bed you share. I remember, once,
it was my own husband who disappeared
like the waning globe of the moon
into the arms of another woman, his memory
now a mere myth in the book of my life,
the myth of the great hunter who ventures
into snow-capped mountains, chasing
the silky gray bodies of wolves
and never returns home.
I refuse your shirt; instead,
I draw your attention to the stars, point to
the long, lithe body of Orion,
his silver arrow forever nocked
and ready to conquer the world.
Before him, only light years of empty sky.
Amber Decker is a thirty-something, blue-collar poet from West Virginia who has had poems published in numerous print and online journals, including Red Fez, Zygote In My Coffee, Exquisite Corpse, and Contemporary American Voices. She is a lover of horses, hooded sweatshirts, coffee, Dungeons & Dragons, werewolf movies, good wine, George Strait, Miles Davis, and the wit of Henry Rollins. Her latest collection of poems, The Girl Who Left You, is available from California’s notorious Six Ft. Swells Press. : roughverse.wordpress.com
Brett Salsbury is a writer who lives in the brightly-lit Las Vegas Valley. He works at UNLV. His work has appeared in Canyon Voices, Peruse and the Blue Island Review. He has a writerly blog-thing located at bmsals.wordpress.com.