Sometimes I pretend the sky & clouds
are just pieces of really expensive paper
shooting stars are just really beautiful papercuts
when you’re young
you stare at the sky & write with your eyes
imagination is just a really nice optometrist
who encourages your vision even if it misses the mark
as you get older
you stare at the sky & write with your fists
it’s a little more violent
you dream of rocket ships exploding in earth’s atmosphere
jet lag confetti raining down on rooftop parties
where evil men drink hallucinogenic bourbon
out of the skulls of orphan babies
you dream of planes crashing into gated communities
where the rich never leave their mansions
spending most of their time
ripping out pages from chapbooks
written by overworked poets
always on the verge of suicide
making paper airplanes out of the trauma
throwing them into fireplaces
when you’re old
you don’t even look at the sky
every room in your home
in your heart
in your brain
has become a basement
full of wet boxes
caused by leaky pipes
you don’t bother to repair
all the suicide notes & love letters
you’ve penned over the years
disintegrating into mush
the words that meant so much
running into one another
like when cops break up a party
the words left behind
form new sentences
you must dig out of the drowning
then you must read what you sew:
there are no windows in your life anymore
all the lovebirds stuffed into a drawer
tenderness is a thousand dolls taking your breath away
a thousand cats pulling your ribcage like a sleigh
the death you deserve, fireflies sinking to the bottom of an ashtray
you’ve always been an origami car stranded on the highway
and the sun is always setting somewhere else
you just wanted a hotter melt
Justin Karcher is a Pushcart-nominated poet and playwright born and raised in Buffalo, New York. He is the author of several books, including Tailgating at the Gates of Hell (Ghost City Press, 2015). He is also the editor of Ghost City Review and co-editor of the anthology My Next Heart: New Buffalo Poetry (BlazeVOX [books], 2017). He tweets @Justin_Karcher.
Returning to where we’re from,
to before waking into the question.
Fresh grass taken into the mouth, chewed, swallowed,
brought up, swallowed down to a blankness.
What was the child’s first words? Why me, mother?
A truth-flavored, empty dark scripted of dreamlessness.
Housedress pockets bulging, hanging,
with sleeping river rocks.
Ask anything into an abandoned house’s broken mirror.
Light from a dead star, roaming and waiting
to be seen and named by the fading eyes
a beast stuck by a vehicle
and resting on the roadside.
Empty well. Empty well. Empty well.
Knowing where all the bodies are buried.
An antique typewriter’s stuck, melting +/= key
on the eighty-seventh floor.
The one balloon, released.
Dust on a window brushed by a man’s black wool-
suited shoulder, glanced through
from inside by the retiring barista.
Cup of black coffee, evaporating on a picnic table.
Larry D. Thacker’s poetry is in over one-hundred-and-fifty publications including Spillway, Still: The Journal, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Poetry South, The Southern Poetry Anthology, The American Journal of Poetry, The Lake,Illuminations Literary Magazine, and Appalachian Heritage. His books include Mountain Mysteries, the full poetry collections Drifting in Awe and Grave Robber Confessional, the chapbooks Voice Hunting and Memory Train, and the forthcoming full collection, Feasts of Evasion. His MFA in poetry and fiction is earned from West Virginia Wesleyan College. Visit his website at: www.larrydthacker.com
Photo: Todd Downs