FOUR POEMS by ELI SAHM

FOUR POEMS by ELI SAHM

i was sad when i turned ten

my dad said i was two numbers i'd already been
i was eating so slowly i wasn’t eating
my mom stayed in her room for a month
i ate soap so i could turn the doorknob
without disturbing the channel dial
because my brother said the t.v. broke
and got in her eyes
i was often outside the front door
excusing myself for burping
while she was collapsed with a phone
cord around her arms and her wicker hair
stiffening incoherently
             like a plastic flamingo cultivating a stance
my dad was too busy microwaving jokes
out of bite marks in the newspaper
to notice

i tasted ammonia at the back of my head
where her slippers went
she laughed in the dark between ads
when we watched letterman hate himself
and try to charm the world’s most dangerous band
into beating him to death with their trumpets
my dad was using his little finger
to chase flies in his drink
as if joggling water from an ear

with an old credit card
i was carving 2D cubes
on top of 2D cubes into lunch trays
which tasted like styrofoam for her
gravy leaked from the lines of my hands
so i asked what’s wrong with the sandwiches
and she flew down the stairs
and chased me around the table
until i was going so fast i was behind her
hurrying to be chased

//

childhood was a slingshot

into a creek bed so watercolor stiff
the crayfish had forgotten themselves
                                                  into stones
we chased so they'd hurt us
                                     their wakes
like disappointing thoughts
into mud caves bulldozers
couldn't unearth the bottoms of
where decaying bits of fin
wimpled out into clouds of swarm
as we dug until we found rocks
already shaped like bones
we felt in our teeth
as we bit into doors of trees
we were told to bathe
like pharaohs filling sun-
faded beer cans with water
we rinsed back our hair drinking
ourselves into teenagers
fucking like sticks falling
off hinges

//

keyboard sympathy

I burned my tongue on cheesecake
I microwaved into a puddle
because I forgot I needed it but couldn’t
wait for it to defrost naturally
                       with me on the table
as I sat with my hands and thoughts
in my hands. I syruped caramel
onto the puddle just in case
it was only coincidence
                                    I was drunk
or the opposite of coincidence
because it was twilight and the moon
had been smacking itself since sunrise,
loitering to be mentioned
                                      like a junkie
waning unconvincingly because
the rest of it was still visible
like a palm below a puppet.

I was trying to watch Christine Miller
argue with Jim Jones: not that I'm afraid to die but
I look at our babies and I think they deserve to live

and her god said I agree but also
what's more is they deserve peace
.
The computer overheated as I listened
I found a live spider nest clogged in the fan
and thought of training them to type
out and teach me the difference
between Jim Jones and God because I couldn't
see any daylight between the two
and felt empty even though
there was turtle pie in the freezer
but probably not enough in the world
to fill me up or soothe this burning
which is the most unfair thing I can imagine
happening to anyone in a long time.

//

after the wine bar with my hand

            asdfsd
            stained red on a sketch description of your face folded
            in my pocket                 i was trying to remember
when you said you wouldn’t fuck me
            with a ten foot pole which i took
            as a nonviolent promise and sweet
            until the sidewalk loiterers fused with you
            against me and you turned away
so fast i almost choked on your dress

down on the wall by the river stuck with blown out
                                    power outlets behind us
a budweiser can was crumpled in a talkative way
we fought over which blue in the sky was better
as default couples dragged the sun down too far
                                                  with their thumbs
a convict muttered at the trash he spiked
and the sun stuck on the battleship spires as i prayed
to the ground for it to sink for us         saxophonist
fingers slipping between keys like goldfish
blowing out notes i could actually see
                                     fade out of your face
that face so obsessed with words
that you wanted one to exist
for when water doesn’t look real
like it would serve a purpose
i said iridescence
you said it’s not that
i said i’ll use it in a poem
you said that’d be disappointing
so i had no choice and it was
 

 


Eli Sahm received his MFA from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. He was a finalist for the 2016 NC State Annual Poetry Contest and his work has appeared or is forthcoming in Your Impossible Voice, Occulum, Rabid OakThe Indianapolis Review, and Cotton Xenomorph.
 

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THREE POEMS by REBECCA KOKITUS