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July 25, 2016 Poetry

Two Poems

Maggie Graber

Two Poems photo


A cycle with seven edges
equals my dream of bicycle spokes
jutting towards the center
of an ice cream bowl. Don’t tell me
the seconds yellow took to elevate
to red isn’t traffic’s version of the sun
rising over a highway ramp, only
that the sun is in another system
where humans are best known
for their stories of liberation.
Somewhere the spider is a god
and silk sleeps with the outgoing mail.
The eagle is more focused
than a class of AP students, but
the students are better at multi-tasking
hunger and virtual reality. My parents
are the only ones who have ever kissed
the dreams behind my eyes, though
I don’t remember. The four cows
on my shirt are advocating that love
be housed in the irises, though the sun
argues for shadows. When the debate
is scheduled, remember to first honor
the eternity of stone triangles.
The competition between dandelions
and darkness will be fierce, snarling
with teeth, but right now, someone
is smashing into a deer on a road,
and the deer’s last thought of light traps
itself in amber, a tunnel of subways,
a microscope. Not a day goes by
I don’t lose myself to a compass,
my family tagging my skull in graffiti.
I don’t have time to argue how
worthwhile the chipmunk is,
its scrotumed cheeks, just know
my heart is a green apple
and my life is the truth of bones
and the skeletons of houses. When the wind
blows past my flagpole spine, it flows
around the rock where the apple used to be
until the morning I had to eat myself.
I still think every birdsong
is a translation asking what do I do
with this dead?
  I try to open
my picnic basket mind, learn about
the emerald blood of warblers, wonder
if spring is a woman. I want to start fresh
the way a touch screen is fresh. I want
to be the crystal—you be the streambed
where I shine.

RV Nation

Friends, I want an RV. I mean, I really do.
Not one of those trailers you tack to the back
of a pick-up either, but a semi-truck sized
beauty with a bald eagle or the Grand Canyon
painted on the side. One with a flat screen
and coffee maker, board games, a bed for the dog
I’d walk with through the Redwoods,
a small awning to seek shade under, where I can wave
to my wandering, nomadic clan. Because as I sit here
at a picnic bench jotting down retirement dreams
in this Americana Paradise of an RV park off Route 66
near the Arizona border, where an apple is so far the only thing
I’ve had to eat today, and an American flag flattens
the bottom of an empty swimming pool, I feel my spirit
here in the Southwest shift into reverse
and head back through the rocky contours of New Mexico
toward Oklahoma and Missouri. Back toward the basketball courts
of Friday night gyms in Indiana with soft pretzels
and blue raspberry slushies that froze each tongue and set of lips
into deep blue arctic trenches. The dirtiest kids
at my school would always ask why’d you give that Smurf
a blowjob, and I suppose the best answer
would have been of course to say
because this is America, and I am free
to paint my body full of roses and call myself
a garden. I can pilgrimage to San Francisco and kneel down
to kiss the front steps of Danny Tanner’s full house.
Visit a museum about the development of the atomic bomb
during the Second World War and learn about biofuels
and algae and note how the green color
always makes me think of the slime
Nickelodeon poured on everyone in the 1990s
which is to say I’m a millennial and remember defining time
before the Internet dialed into my life, a little before
the towers in New York fell, or the word ‘terror’ enacted
a force field around my chest I’ll never tear apart.
This morning I’ll cross into Arizona and buy a $5 Navajo blanket
in a small yellow shop shadowed
by a mountain of red rocks where
life-sized plastic horses and goats guard a wild space.
I can’t help but love this country
and every outdoor public piano on it.
This morning, John behind the desk made coffee at 8am
and the bathrooms here are the cleanest bathrooms
I’ve ever seen, I mean, pristine
and I know my head is as scattered as sand
in a desert wind sometimes, but I’ve come here to this page
out of love, for every recreational vehicle
in this park, from the 1970s until now, how I pause
at each portrait of mountains and streams on tin panel,
how I discuss with the carved wood bears sunbathing
near the Statue of Liberty around this pool
everything I have to say
about the soul and all that this RV park
makes me feel, which is exactly
what art
is supposed to do.

image: Ian Amberson