Say, there are flowers by the door. A nervous bee tugging on its bowtie. The neighbors have pulled up chairs. Say, a box of childhood trauma,
a list of broken hearts, a warm trombone tucked under arm. I was a movie star in LA. Why haven’t you heard of me? I was your mother’s
favorite son. Every woman I meet either walks the other way or asks me to move in. No one wants to just go for sandwiches at that new place
downtown. Pickles and three kinds of cheese. Mayo, an abomination before God. Please don’t let this be another fine example of American
miserableism. I’ve swallowed so much dirt, I made it my bones. That’s why I squelch when I start to sweat. I don’t mean to say anything
to make anyone uncomfortable. Nakedness is more of a state of mind than an actionable offense. I’ll give you some of my honey so you can always
be my queen. The first name on the list is my own.
I Only Feel Safe When It Rains
I launched my small life onto the dark side of the moon, a beautiful parade of the same day for years on end. Tycho Brahe couldn’t
see me shivering amidst the constellations. It’s easy to appear strong to a mirror, reflecting the familiar light. I sipped the milky sky
to grow strong, kept my head down and accepted
my place in the rotation. But it’s so hard to be your own dawn when none of the mornings left in the world are taking reservations. You came
to my door in light, a sigh of beauty. Shattered the midafternoon lull, verve to accent the horizon, color painting the sky. How could someone
so vibrant live in the gray dust we’ve made
this place? Everything falls away in your eyes; my life, a moldering crater. I want to burn in orbit around you, fear peeling away to greet the dawn.
Don’t Fuck It Up
Your eyes, a green I envy, their lushness quiets me, warm waters in a moonlit night. Peace tastes like honey on the tongue, salty and sweet. I need you to understand how
I see you. I’m used to being small. You’re used to being strong. You are kinder than I could ever be to myself. Let me be kind to you.
Where are you now? I’m always with you, no matter how loud it gets. The noise of the world can never shout down your shameless smile. I will drive a hundred
miles to sit on your couch and watch murder shows while you panic about how easy this is. Let’s lie in the grass for a little while
until our sneezing disturbs the squirrels. Sweetheart, there will always be someone dying in another room while you’re trying to get the laundry done. We can hire someone
to dust the bookshelves.
When the rain came, we politely asked it to wait until after dinner. It refused, so we came into the dining room. The rain had blown a tire, left its phone at home. We offered to call a tow truck, but it was too busy complaining about the young people. “Remember jncos?” I reminded. The rain fingered its drooping ear holes and pounded against the roof. “I just mean we all grow up. One day, it’s all art and communism. Now, it’s about who has the most recent wound.” “I fell on the road,” the rain said, holding up a paw. Dirt graveled its palm. I offered it a bandage. “It will only wash off,” it said, which made sense. “Would you like something to eat?” I asked again, but the rain shook its head. The children were done, so we excused them. “You can play video games until the power goes out.” The rain glared. I shrugged to show I was only being practical. “No one appreciates what they need,” the rain said. It was getting late. The steady drum was softening our wakefulness. All of our hints died in the thunder. We settled in for a long night.
Raised on a rice and catfish farm in eastern Arkansas, CL Bledsoe is the author of more than thirty books, including the poetry collections Riceland, The Bottle Episode, and his newest, Driving Around, Looking in Other People’s Windows, as well as his latest novels Goodbye, Mr. Lonely and The Saviors. Bledsoe lives in northern Virginia with his daughter.