First Books IV
Volume 16:2, Spring 2015
I awoke holding a wrench.
Stubble and an eye-patch remained
from my life as a pirate.
I fit in everywhere I went:
Hard hat, top hat, cowboy hat.
Horse or jeep. A monkey
for my sidekick, or a droll dump truck.
My nature was to be of use.
Many jobs required only a fixed expression,
a stance among objects
still, my head could turn
like a globe, my arm spin.
If demons were called for, I could flee.
If the city was doomed, I could be herald,
witness, the odd survivor
smiling under the rubble,
face polished as a lie.
Her hair is borrowed. Her face
can be exchanged, scowl for smile.
Husband headless at the moment
while the child considers
ambulance, safari, building site?
She falls apart so easily,
as though recombination
were her nature. She knows the dolor
under a bed, has bitten the heel
that would crush her,
suffers from nightmares
of swirling water. Build her a window.
Pose tulips in her flowerbed, an eager dog,
shine a flashlight and call it sunrise.
All her babies are immaculate
and will never age.
Popsicle stick man,
their ukulele tunes dont fool her
shes immune to swagger
She wants her arm repaired,
fingers that move. Wants to throw the bird,
shoot a finger gun, make a fist
Her babies are miniature Buddhas,
shiny rubbable bellies,
and her pets grin
like no animal should.
vanish like her men,
The town has always known
its not for real. People lose their heads
with ease. The water tower keeps up appearances.
A day of heave-ho
brings a dusk of soaps and scents.
So I was promised. They posed the goodie bags
Well never know who set the moon
to plunder offices,
a ravenous wrecking ball
loving walls to death. Now the talking tractor bares its teeth,
the robots mutiny.
I go looking for a peg to plant my feet on,
a reason for the Santa
hanging off the bridge,
all this colorful rubble.
Batteries full, a train
keeps rounding the catastrophe
as though nothing special has happened.
Washington Writers Publishing House is a non-profit organization that has published over 50 volumes of poetry since 1973 and so far nearly a dozen volumes of fiction. The press sponsors an annual competition for writers living in the Washington-Baltimore area.
Robert Herschbach is the author of Loose Weather (Washington Writers' Publishing House, 2013), and the chapbook A Lost Empire (Ion Books, 1994). He is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of Iowa and the PhD program at the University of New Hampshire. Herschbach is a writer and editor and lives in Laurel, MD.