Ode To The Hater
Your name on our caller ID
leers like a traffic ticket on a windshield.
Your rumors are determined as termites,
your tongue jumpy like a jarred roach.
The births of healthy, gleaming babies
twist you ill. June is your
November, miracles your disasters;
Obama’s election hospitalized you.
Your eyes drip pleasure-tears
when a wrecking ball strikes a school.
Kind minds have labored centuries
to guess reasons for your presence,
to invent figurative scissors
and clip the knotted cloth
blindfolding you from typical bliss.
In minutes, dawn will reacquire
the sky. We’re tired. Besides,
even if a bundle of money appeared
unmarked in your living room,
you’d curse the sorry world
for creating paper crisp
enough to cut your counting thumb.
Ode To The Bully
Your knuckles are rows of rocks
wrapped in dim skin.
Our collars crumple
in your indisputable grip.
Your footsteps unstem
elm leaves; your voice is
sledge-head against iron spike.
With our soda change and bus tolls
your pocket clamors
like the sea farer’s purse.
You terrify our teachers,
your curse-laced refusals
rip their ears as if butcher paper.
Your mama some nights
doesn’t come home
after tavern-waitress shifts;
she shuffles men
whose mouths know one motion
for winces and grins.
Your fridge is a bookshelf
after a literature burning;
your toilet and tub
are swampy, your room
drafty as a half-built boat.
Bully, we wish to be you,
to wake and flex our necks
loose of sleep’s kinks,
to pull on cold clothes,
to trudge the street as sunlight
knifes the early sky,
to huff the neighborhood’s nitrogen
and know about carrying out
the thorny vow, obeyed
from a basic age, to regulate
pain’s imperative flames.
Ode To Last Call
Shouted by the bartender
in a bill collector’s baritone,
even the jukebox yields to you.
Our bottles and glasses grow
vacant as maxed-out mines.
Before you, we barked for hours
in varnished tongues, we bet
outcomes of pool table duels,
we laughed like rattling wagons,
we pissed in ceaseless shifts,
urinals centered with soap disks,
we chomped peanuts from plastic baskets
as steady snow turned the windows
to slowly unrolling scrolls.
Your lights flood our eyes,
push-broom us outside,
the night air a bitten plum.
Our cars wear cotton coats
we brush the windshields naked of.
Last Call, without you, how much
longer could we have eluded
our homes, people we trouble
and love, thoughts that luster
and rust, a world that swivels
tireless, as if its spin
won’t ever encounter
the wall of the word Stop.
-from Neighborhood Register, CavanKerry Press (September 13, 2011)
MARCUS JACKSON is the author of Pardon My Heart (TriQuarterly Books) and Neighborhood Register (CavanKerry Press, 2011). He teaches in the MFA program at Ohio State University and lives in Columbus, Ohio.