Stefan Karlsson

The Finer Details

Today a pigeon pooped on my head.

The scene was like this: a bench, my friend,

two ice cream cones. We spoke of sex

and aching sleeplessness, then plop:

poop. I never would have remembered

this day, those trees, that cookies & cream.


But even so, its a day Id exclude

from my memoirs. The bird poop

neither advanced my career, nor transformed

my views on karma. No new avian aversion.

No Newtonian epiphany: A seed

fell on my head. Nothing grew.


Nothing new: We forget incidents that dont suit

our stories. For example, the dancing of Jesus.

When he saw the bride at Cana

kiss her groom, and heard the drums

rumble their beat, how could he not move

his feet, swing his belly, shake his locks?


Joy, pure rumba joy, lifted Jesus

off the floor like he never could have believed.

He quaffed the wine then emptied his stomach

to make room for more. The ladies mocked

his gaudy beard, the same yardbird mug

they admired when he hung from the cross.

An Umbrella Is Not an Umbrella

It was a time when men treated umbrellas

like ladies, and boys traded pictures of them

under their desks. The sky was still yellow


back then, and each day was just the stem

that bloomed into the nights dream. Prayers

pooled in backyards and exceeded their brim


daily, after one or two too many beers,

and a woman could make herself into a patio

without worrying about her neighbors stares.


Then the shame dawned on them: Arcadia,

it seemed, was raining umbrellas––the sun

ached for its umbra. Men gathered round the radio


and shook their heads. What kind of fun

could they possibly have in broad daylight?

They wondered why their wives werent nuns.


They packed us, paralyzed parasols, out of sight

with lawn mowers and fertilizer in their sheds.

And there I lay, until the boy who came to write


these lines raised me, so to speak, from the dead.

And to think I once knew peace! or having known it, know it,

a dream in amber. To think Im not just a thought in your head,


not a matchstick to burn out, not even a candle. Poet,

respect me. Im the fire of your life now. Dont blow it.


Stefan Karlsson is an MFA student in poetry at UC Irvine. His work is published or forthcoming in CIRCLE Poetry Journal,Westwind, and Forklift, Ohio.