our jade rockets whistled like ordnance: tremolo squeals as their thin traceries ripped from the hillside into a dusk that’s steady booms ensured no one heard nine-year-old me futzing with a snipped hanger looped as cooler latches
to keep a trove of Shaefers arctic & slushy with shards of ice so the first long pull ran chilly over chins: my chin’s sticky snow cone smear rinsed clean in the bitter backwash dribbling down the ringed collar of my holey
Thundercats tee: the three good fingers from a cousin’s hand lit my sparkler with his dying Bic: between explosions the only glows were Parliaments of uncles pitching horseshoes who remembered my birthday three days early: a professor once
warned to never write poems in the past tense, you will fail she said to capture that aere perennius & besides why nail yourself to the cross of nostalgia, we have enough bum poets to populate sixty seven moons of Jupiter
lady, there the callouses tousled my matted hair, July heat cured our bodies like hogs crucified & split in a smokehouse, there there there I arced the slow calligraphy of my name over & over in air with a wand hissing stars
A Corporate Jumper’s Whispers to the Traffic
you gridlocked marionettes sweating through Manhattan with your billion tuneless radios are dissonant slaves of static sunburned biceps elbows forearms frantic fingers like infinitesimal waxwings aflutter on scratched Ford dashes you dreamed would soon trade up into the keyless leather plush of a leased Beamer here have the silver fob to mine after some firefighter etches a yellow circle measuring how far it swims the air like a grenade across Cambodia where father shot shambled jungle huts full of shrapnel his lasting monumental shame a preppy dope-sick son in & out of rehab just a lump sum not baron not priest not lord of interest gulping zeros not oorah sprinting breathless through midnight tracer fire heaven for the slug is merely the ramp he’s waved aboard by Noah over the good ledge lollipop he will ask to see my body he will identify with my examiners blue-gloved in butcher’s aprons having wobbled queasily through the subway’s steel aorta he will aim aim aim for the birthmark on my heel
Adam Tavel received the 2010 Robert Frost Award and his chapbook Red Flag Up was recently published by Kattywompus Press. His collection The Fawn Abyss is forthcoming with Salmon Poetry in 2014. Tavel’s recent poems appear or will soon appear in Quarterly West, The Massachusetts Review, Passages North, Southern Indiana Review, West Branch, and Cream City Review, among others. He is an associate professor of English at Wor-Wic Community College on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.