Feed the Dream: The Palmetto Poets' Place
YOUR ONLY SHINY THING
Thomas Malulck


LIFE LESSONS


Let her hold the patched body
of ketchup-stained cotton
just another minute
before bed.

Tomorrow morning will not be the same
as her knocking, wooden figures
that she stacked into walls
and shaped into houses
before kicking the huddled masses over.
This is not an act of construction.

She does not clutch the double-stitch smile
like the sight of an untouched beach
where she left no footprints
and could not see lightning
flashing brilliantly at sea.
This is not a time for stepping lightly.

The doll is for letting go.

 

LIVING MEDICINE


You are a 4th-generation green,
an olive green.
Impure, uncouth, poured liberally,
and entirely too sticky
in Summer.

You would be useful in bottles,
preserved in necessary portions
for when my skin begins to turn clear
and casts no shadow.

Three ice cubes in a glass
would be French etiquette,
but the five needed to cool you off
clinking in an hourglass mug
are perfect for making the drink refreshing,
though flavorless.

I gulp on your bitter tea,
gag on the necessary scent of mulch,
then fill the mug with dirt
and plant your remaining leaves,
hoping to grow a better fortune.



FROM ATHENS TO GREECE IN ZERO SECONDS FLAT


Sunrise by the temple
comes without knowing
from where to speak
that an echo will reach all directions.

I imagined courts of stone benches
and seasons contained in a grape,
but here is a brick road whispering
as children kick through orange leaves
and juice is still by the carton.

There is a bowl
children aren't allowed to touch --
Socrates drank from it
the gallons of his life.
It has since been washed out
and is used to store beans.

Through the columns there is color,
and while it is without wisdom,
the sight grants a morning
to do nothing
and the peace that will bring
when events pretend otherwise.



UNEARTHING THE BLUE BOMBER


Ring the round, rusted bell:
plink. Some artifact.

Long ago, this boat floated down receding waters
and was ground into the earth,
the tide pulled over its mast
until today, when the letters
of a lost horizon B-L-U-E
spell out from the pebbled shore
of a local lake.

He inspects the hull,
measures cracks in the wood,
calculates a theory of the crash.
I imagine an anchor beneath it all
and the distance it fell
as the captain tied his last knot.

In a museum, there would be maps
of where Blue Bomber was headed,
signed photographs from the day
it was salvaged ahead of fierce storms.

There would be a smudge
at the Gulf of Mexico
marking its missed fate
emulsified in the water
where rumors formed an island.



HOLD YOUR APPLAUSE


The butterfly through my binoculars
is a pattern, insect, poison, instant.
Its wings, wedged beneath your glass,
fly from egg to bud to ash,
never recognized as a moment.

Broad blades of grass,
sleeping trees with their branches raised,
a line of ants arcing across their dirt dome:
all of these bend for the wind,
but you stand eclipsing nature
convinced it will speak some secret.

Along the sun-tipped leaves there is snoring.



LULLABY IN CRISIS


I left your shoes at the side of the door for you
to find. Tie them, and together we'll run
between patches of shade and ignore this heat,
ignore the steps softly falling behind,
your figure curling into the gravel road.

My pace before your cry for help was swift,
but I lost passion explaining you to strangers
without cell phones. I understand mortality
like wasp's nests and they the garden hose:
stay calm, look away, hum a little song.

Instead,
Your voice whistling
to be heard from the back seat,
hands weakly reaching
to be felt,
my foot on the gas
to put you to bed.

Two aspirin wait on the side of the nightstand for you
to find. They are a siren; your health will hear it
by morning. For now, a serenade for the heart-raced,
a tune to sleep inside, the end of worry.



IDEA OF HAPPINESS


A used necklace box
in which he keeps a strand
of my hair, darker then
and easier to contain. How many
would he like to keep?
Do the fibers grow in place, struggle
against their collectors' value,
or sleep and hope to awaken
on the head of a grayer,
wiser generation?



JUST TO HEAR THE TONE


He stretches in bed at morning,
Beneath the poster of a penguin
Waddling alone on the peak of a glacier,
And imagines how much of the sound up there
Is air, how much steady waves,
And if anywhere he can hear a lonely mate.

He waters his garden,
Flowers taking in his casual talk,
Absorbing his feelings into their soil
And letting the words drip off the stem.
He read somewhere that they'll hear him
Without listening.

Outside his window,
a neighbor finishes repairs on a car
that has run wildly, stuttered, coughed,
and exploded on two separate occasions.
The swearing was the most entertaining part,
and he hates to see the purring vehicle go.

On the roof of his building
he can lie down and hear,
but not listen to, the ringing
of memory released to the atmosphere.
He keeps two phones rooted in the concrete,
not a number dialed between them.
He holds the receivers to his ears
and revels in the stereo sound
of someone waiting for a call.


FATHERLAND
SCENES IN A MINOR KEY
SCORPIO RISING
LEAVING
GALLERY CRAWL
IN THE LIVING ROOM

FRAGRANT INFERNO
YOUR ONLY SHINY THING
ENDINGS
THE LIZARD IN THE WASHING MACHINES
AWKWARDNESS
MORE LIGHT THAN WE CAN HOLD
 
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