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March 9, 2017 | Poetry

Three Poems

Patrick Kindig

Three Poems photo

Sweep


there had been one too many shots of rumplemintz &
I was feeling dizzy / so / you told me to lie down / & stare

at a fixed point / & I did / I lay myself down
on the linoleum / right there in the kitchen / & spread

my arms out / like a giant squid / & we continued
our conversation / not looking at each other

for a while / & then you left / & physically / I was
feeling better / so I got up / touched my back / felt

loose hair & onionskins & chunks of dried tomato sauce
stuck there / & I thought for a moment / about

serious things / like what you were saying / about the future
while my back was coating itself / with shit / & then

I thought / I really need to clean this floor
after all / they say cleanliness is godliness / so

whether or not I mop the linoleum / may decide
whether or not I burn in hell / & after all / I do

drink a lot / & swear / & I’ve sucked a lot of strangers’
dicks / & sometimes when I tell people I love their shoes

or their haircut or their baby’s face / I’m lying / just
lying / for no particular reason / so if all it takes to be

a better person / is to take my broom out of the closet / once
in a while / so help me god / I’ll do it / I’ll suck it up

& do it / so / brushing my back clean / I went
to the closet / & opened it / rummaged around

for a good two minutes / & then I remembered
that two years ago / I lent my broom to a cute guy

who lived in my building / & he never gave it back / no
he swept his own apartment / and never gave it back


The Occasional Baby


is what I want to name the novel
I’ll never write about a man
who desperately loves

babies but is terrified of being
a father and who sometimes slips
into daycares and science museums and quietly

steals an unattended child, only for a day
or two. The man brings these babies
home, lets them play with the toys

hidden in his closet, bounces them
on his knee, sings them songs about
ponies and shooting stars, and then, when the guilt

grows too heavy in his chest,
he returns them, the daycare supervisors
and the museum docents and

the frantic searching parents
never able to explain
those two silent days that caused

an interruption in their lives. This man,
of course, is a thinly veiled version
of myself, and these children, of course,

are thinly veiled versions of
the children carried daily in and out
of the learnatorium across

the street. When I began to date
my first girlfriend, her favorite game
was to ask me not to wear a condom

and then worry she was
pregnant. My favorite game
was to pretend she was not

my girlfriend. And then, for obvious reasons,
she wasn’t, and then I met my first
boyfriend and this kind of accident

was no longer a concern. Now
I’m single and twenty-three and
impossibly broke and I know

I’m too young to be worrying
about this sort of thing, about
fatherhood and mortgages and

leasing an SUV, but every time I see a friend
lift his child to his lips like a mirror
and kiss it goodnight, I feel a tiny foot

in my stomach. So
I make jokes about kidnapping
and keeping newborns

until they outgrow their baby fat, jokes
so elaborate they drift out of the realm
of humor, into the realm

of motive and probable cause, but
I keep making them anyway, keep
writing new scenes in my head

about babies loved temporarily. I
can only hope my friends’ children
never go missing because

after that first interview with the mother, the police
will come straight to my apartment, ask
about the building blocks scattered

across my floor, tell me they’re looking
for a baby, that it’s missing, ask
if I’ve seen it. And I’ll of course tell them

I have, because I will have, but that it isn’t
there, that it’s already back in its parents’
house, sound asleep, unaware

that for a few brief hours of its life
it had made me feel
something like a father.


Poem in Which the World Does Not End but the Phone Does Stop Ringing, the Porch Light Stops Needing to Be Left on After Dark, and the Sink Fills with Dishes, the Freezer with Chocolate Ice Cream, and When It Rains the Sidewalk Is Covered with Worms, and There Are Nights When the Moon Does Not Even Make an Appearance in the Sky, When the Wine Keeps Pouring Itself from One Empty Thing into Another, and There Are Nights When Resolutions Are Made About Weight Loss and Meditation and the Building of Spice Racks to Hang in the Kitchen, About Spending More Time Outside and Taking Up Gardening, and Though All the Rabbits Have Disappeared from the Yard, the Neighbors’ Azaleas Have Finally Begun to Bloom, and When a Warm Front Arrives the Dogwood Loses Half Its Branches to a Storm, the Wind Chimes Begin to Rust, and Yet Sunday Continues to Come with Its Morning Walks and Its Babies Dressed in Church Clothes, and the Barista with a Tattoo of a Dove on His Neck Continues to Whistle ABBA Songs as He Refills the Pastry Case with Apples and Scones, the Sunlight Still Glinting on His Nose Ring, the Smell of Honeysuckle Still Wafting in Whenever He Hears the Door Open, Looks Up, Smiles


Hallelujah anyway.

 

image: Bryan Bowie


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