Gregory Poetry, aaduna in exile, spring 2021 issue, Vol. 10 No. 1
About the Poet
Let poetry not be slaughter.
—D. Eric Parkison
Gross anatomy explosion,
Detailed map of a life lived,
An incomplete catalogue
Of knowledge and experience herein:
I was looking for a place to place
My soul translated into words.
I was quick to cut them out.
Look, I said, hands
Red and dripping,
Chest cavity splayed,
Made available for your seeking.
O, frayed dendrite,
Ceaseless nerve impulse,
This tender electric shine.
My body like an open book,
Hinged at the spine.
Chemically Induced for Intubation
An elephant does a circus ballet
on my sternum and my muscles
feel like I just did chest and abs
for a week straight and ate
no protein for the recovery.
Survival is the one thing my flailing
mind attempts to grasp. This will all be over soon
is of no comfort to me—
but her eyes.
Her eyes above the blue, pleated surgical mask
are perfectly shaped, colored
as if the sky and tropical oceans made love.
I could die overnight. She could be
smiling right now, and I might
never know either way.
Her voice is almost as soothing
as her eyes. She says,
Count backward from one hundred
and places her hand on my right shoulder
which is covered in a backless gown of matching blue.
I make it to ninety-seven and chuckle.
Her eyes smile and I think
If they wake me
and my mind is still tethered
to this body,
I will ask her out for coffee,
if coffee shops survive this, too.
Shopping Cart Asks Me How I Feel
Some of my friends haven’t written
since we’ve all been alone
in our respective homes,
and they tell me they’re scared
they’re not writers anymore.
I’m just glad they’re alive
to tell me of their fears. I tell them
watching porn and reading fiction and drawing
stick figures are all productive activities.
Shy away from retail therapy
because that’s literally capitalistic bullshit
programming. Fuck a shopping cart
dopamine high. Go for a walk. Maybe
try meditation. At least do a pushup or
something nice for your body.
Yes, wine is a nice thing for your body.
Yes, the whole bottle, I tell them,
if that’s what I think they need to hear.
I look over at the kitchen counter and see
the liter-and-a-half bottle of dry red
from the local winery.
The distillery one town over has converted
to producing hand sanitizer.
The world has changed.
I make sure to tell friends I love them.
I talked to my mother for the first time
in six months. I haven’t seen my children
in what feels like a year.
Gravity pulls a bead of wine
down the side of the bottle
until the label is stained with motion.
Here I am, looking at
my tabbed shopping carts,
engaging in retail therapy.
I hover over Place Order.
I will wait for the world to move again.
Communication can pre-emptively solve
nearly any problem.
When she calls
a veggie omelet, rye toast,
home fries, and a side of hollandaise,
I say heard
to acknowledge the request,
to ensure nothing is wasted,
to keep the line alive.
Heard is something heard
in every commercial kitchen.
Due to the pandemic,
one of the best restaurants
in Upstate New York
has permanently closed.
Three weeks into isolation,
the kitchen manager sends me a text.
Separated by air of untested purity
and two car doors,
this is the closest we will ever be
in all the years we’ve known each other.
She tells me her truth.
Death has consistently stolen from her
since she was a child,
but she carries it with grace and patience,
and this pandemic is a reminder of memory.
Neighbors, friends, family:
to her, they are more than the numbers
that grow when I click the reload button
in my browser.
I interpret her composure as stoicism.
On the line, she is the one who
conducts our back-of-the-house dance.
She is the one we look to for guidance.
She is the one who asks about my poetry
during after-hours drinks. A new mother herself,
I wouldn’t imagine drinks would have been
on the menu this season, but
she still asks about my work, and she knows,
as a mother somehow always does,
how we operate within the confines of our minds.
I’m fine, I tell her.
It’s getting late. The evening cools,
and we both are hungry for supper.
We part, return to our separate homes, alone.
Later, when I finish cooking,
my phone buzzes.
She asks me what a group of line cooks is called.
This laughter is what we all need now,
and the answer will make a great title
for a poem.
aaduna - an online adventure with words and images - a globally read, multi-cultural, and diverse online literary and visual arts journal established in 2010.