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May 1, 2023 Poetry

3 Poems

Tom Kelly

3 Poems photo

by spring’s end we were trending toward utopia

everyone was cruising on motorcycles or skateboards,
driving low-riders or loafing around the countryside on horseback.
black sunglasses were en vogue, ironic cowboy hats,
a toothpick or wheat strand dangled over the bottom lip.
at work, we rolled our eyes, spit in the trash can, said this slaps
and whatever and vibe. bureaucrats feared the backlash

of bucking against our trend, so they took off fridays
to surf at the beach. tardiness became the new etiquette,
we walked slower than we previously thought possible,
and the sexiest quality in a partner was the ability to space out
on a park bench, to marvel at the skyline for hours. public

cuddling, with a hint of ennui, was the summertime rage.
there were leftover pundits who said nothing’d get done,
like it was a bad thing. we deemed them uncool and shrugged
and they were fired from their jobs. though we agreed
this was the best year to be a living human being, somehow
it didn’t last. of course it didn’t last. though, a few of us remember.


Glitch in the Vault

Today, the sky is fractured. There’s a thin crack drawn along the edge of a cloud, which pulses. It is leaking—garnets or apples or dollops of blood—and, around the tear, a purple tinge blossoms like a bruise. I think it is the most beautiful wound I have seen in my life. A torrent paints a coffin race car red. Pomegranates pulverize a windshield. Kids unbutton their suits, kick off their heels. They dance beneath the rose petals melting into a calm red rain. I have sat beneath so many skies I tend to lose count, most beautiful and forgettable, the background to a brown-bagged lunch, in winter a gloom too obvious to weigh. On one hand, I can tally the instances in which I remember the sky in a particular moment, a particular mood. It is a voyeur and pervert, I’ve theorized, which is why most ceilings aren’t made of glass. We laugh and it mocks us with a cloud shaped like an octopus. The wound darkens. Tomorrow maybe I’ll see about stitching it back together.    


Speculations About the Lake in My Living Room

I was convinced it harbored ghosts, skeletons, treasures long lost. My intuition was a liar, sentimental, inclined to magic. When I built a giant paper rowboat to sail the perimeter, I fucked up the proportions. The breeze was weak, and the paper cut hurt my hand. In the future, I’m sure scientists will hypothesize the phenomenon: the disappointment of miracles or the miracle of disappointment, how they form overnight. I sledgehammered a hole in the wall to let the moon shine off the surface of the water. I caught no fish and I fished for days. Once, in a bout of unbearable sadness, I dove to the bottom. My mission was to brood. I got bored instead.


image: KangHee Kim 김강희