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, it’s a day I’d 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 don’t 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 night’s 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 weren’t 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 I’m not just a thought in your head,
not a matchstick to burn out, not even a candle. Poet,
respect me. I’m the fire of your life now. Don’t 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.