The Year I Went Without Turning on the Furnace by Mark DeCarteret
I added another piano to the fire and napped again. Until I was as hot as a pan. My forehead a skewer of sweat. The spit on my upper lip profound as a prayer round. The den needs new paneling. Even though in its knots I still see the seeds of a sonnet. That one source I keep citing like a tic. Is that a train or an air raid artlessly announcing my retirement? Or an owl lowering itself to my sense of the world? One tree does what it can to stay stabbed into earth. Another rests against another. Feigning life. Introducing itself to William Stafford. As a second grader, I was asked to case the moon. Seek out answers where they, the answers, drank at the drink hole. I’m still spied on despite the security measures. A lidless eye dialed in on the slide where my desires died halfway. One would have to be a nut not to think the sun neutral. Not to think the stars are given to lateness when their rating system is needed the most. Earlier, an old man in the mirror, demanded I speak to him. I did. And he clammed up like an oracle. Took to coloring. I can’t imagine what he thinks of me. Stick-figuring in my own effigy. This diagram of grief that I bought as a kit. This searchlight is slimming. Taking miles off my tummy. For a second the room’s cast in silver. Where my head had been kinged. And the cat had left his grin on my shin. You know, I won once. It wasn’t much different than losing.
Mark DeCarteret has appeared next to Charles Bukowski in a lo-fi fold-out, Pope John Paul II in a high test collection of Catholic poetry, Billy Collins in an Italian fashion coffee table book, and Mary Oliver in a 3785 page pirated anthology.
Photo by Kvnga