Jeff Handy's poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Canto Magazine, Gandy Dancer,
MiNT, The Southern Humanities Review, and elsewhere. He is an Associate Poetry Editor
at DIALOGIST and a current AmeriCorps member serving in Austin, Texas (U.S.A.).
Everyone's Favorite Color at One Point Was Blue
I chose a mountain
to bring me into the sky
on the switchbacks hikers say hello
you're almost there now I'm there
& the summit is not as idyllic
as I'd hoped there's toilet paper
littered in the alpine range
I can't lift my arms lay open my neck
to the thunderheads laying dark over other peaks
I'm stepping unintentionally
on rare plants the steward informs me
he climbs the 8 miles every morning
he says to the kids the fire tower shouldn't be climbed
they are hanging from its tangled metal
shouting down to me raising their hands
to wave, no to point the valley
is aflame the smoke is disregarding the switchbacks
scrambling up to us where the steward
radios in to base death is a spatial construct
the air not much longer thin.
Curious, the ancient Grecian father's decision to expose: re-enclose the newborn
in cooler womb, e.g. clay pot. Make sub-decision between jilting at muddy roadside
or carrying to cliffs, carrying to cliffs being more honorable of the two. So carry to cliffs.
Rain falls. Petrichor. Conflict vis ŗ vis pleasant sensations (per petrichor) & doleful sentiments
(per exposure of newborn in progress). Quell conflict via re-conjuring of stoic attitude/face as of
that worn during proclamation of decision to wife at outset, still arranging olive branch on door.
Focus on squish...thhhuck of sandals sticking & unsticking in mud up path away from town.
Smother the mouth of clay pot with hand so as to not take chance growing attached
to newbornís noises, facial configurations, etc. Focus on grittier things, e.g. wife's future appreciation
of such tough but necessary decision. Suddenly near cliffs. Suddenly will need to
abandon newborn very soon. Be resolute. Don't look out to ocean. Don't remove hand
from clay pot. Search for place to deposit. Waves breaking on cliffs. Leave distance between
deposit spot and waves. Give newborn chance. Deposit on rocks arranged such that clay pot remains
upright. Donít watch waves sweep in. Water erupting in air. So tall. Foam. Hiss of bubbles.
Don't think of tide, whether it will come in, take away clay pot, newborn in one vast breath.
Don't envision newborn reaping strength from years ahead to use in brief time now, emerging
glabrous as a leaf from mouth of clay pot, looking to ocean. Don't imagine newborn sequestering
intellect from future, siphoning it through the hollow of river reed, coming to see ocean, cliffs
as metaphor. Slip away before newborn turns to see you, other broken clay pots, cliffs
white with bone, muddy fossils of other footprints up path away from town, water, foam, hiss.
Used to be blood was drawn from the ground, the hill west of town
quick to blush dry October's advances caulked to fill
In the quarry I've seen the needle through the root: the sap-bucket mouths
of grandchildren nailed to gray trees, breath in plumes & small pollutions
Of knowing the romance in leaves is no longer their falling
but two narrow men raking ash into piles of how the majesty was gathering
A tint to wither things, translating the season to a shrug
our labor into bitter amalgams of rustling
Now until the streetlights are swollen we are gobs of it,
beating on as sugar submits to tin, collecting our selves by the drop.
There's a knot of barn facades aching to be named. Arrive at daybreak through the
maple copse. Drag the pond when it has thawed for families of geese. Arrange the
bodies in opaque cubes before the foxes. Note how eyes sour to a rot. Blueprint the
outskirts and develop what can be developed. Split and inter a barn board. Etch to
name the place. Pour a highway over it all like hot fudge. Drive through end to end.
Hand crank the window. Toss an apple core and all its seeds to the ditch. Set the
jaws westward. Long for the sun to crack.
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