Two Poems by Adam Tavel

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A Brief History of Independence

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
& 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.

Photo credit: Ben K Adams via photopin cc is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.