Damage, today I’m obsessed with damage.
The cored-out heart of the rose, not the bud
or the bloom, but root to flower—
whatever’s maimed, blemished, blistered, harmed,
this skin the talon, the thorn has hooked—
morning’s minion, ha—
and those shreddy clouds the sky assembles
only to have something fun
to tear into pieces. I remember Vuillard’s painting awash
with parlor knickknacks, his floral decor so chintzed
you can’t tell carpet from chair from curtain, can barely see
the old woman dying quietly in her rocker.
Down the street, in the corner shop the hollowed slabs
of ribcage swing. From the café radio
Janis Joplin’s ropy voice,
almost present, then static, then gone.
Something gleams from the hubcap, saying,
It’s evening, you lived so long,
what have you done? Answer it back, oh hubcap,
some things can’t be lived through—
the bolus we grow around—but there is
some endurable affliction,
the abscessed hoof sliced back until it bleeds;
we pack in the mud and wait and hope
enough foot grows back to nail on a shoe.
The long days are marked by waiting by the phone,
by the door, by the mailbox, and the sense
that the days themselves are passing.
by Helen Wickes
Helen Wickes lives in Oakland, California, and worked for many years as a psychotherapist. In 2002 she received an M.F.A. from Bennington College. Her first book of poems, In Search of Landscape, was published in 2007 by Sixteen Rivers Press. Her poems can be read and heard online at From The Fishouse. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in AGNI Online, Amarillo Bay, Arroyo Literary Review, Atlanta Review, California Quarterly, The Citron Review, Confrontation, Corium Magazine, Crack The Spine, Eclipse, Evansville Review, ginosko, Pirene’s Fountain, RiverSedge, Sakura Review, Sanskrit, Santa Fe Literary Review, South Dakota Review, Stand, Talking River, TriQuarterly, Runes, ZYZZYVA, Zone 3, Chicago Quarterly Review, The Collagist, The Hollins Critic, Jet Fuel Review, The Journal, Natural Bridge, Qwerty, Santa Clara Review, Folly, Forge, Green Hills Literary Lantern, Limestone, PANK, Mary: A Journal of New Writing, The Spoon River Poetry Review, Cloudbank, Bryant Literary Review, Eclectica, Ellipsis…, Southwestern American Literature, Willow Review, FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry, Hanging Loose, Prick of the Spindle, Boulevard, Soundings East, Verdad, The Coe Review, Concho River Review, Crucible, The Jabberwock Review, Kaleidoscope, Pleiades, PMS poemmemoirstory, SLAB, Visions International, The Griffin, Salamander, Splash of Red, Epicenter, Barnstorm, Poetry Flash, In the Grove, Freshwater, Schuylkill Valley Journal of the Arts, Weber: The Contemporary West, West Marin Review, Whisperings, Softblow, 5 AM, the Bennington Review, Picayune Magazine, Delmarva Review, The Tower Journal, Sagarana, and the anthology Best of the Web 2009.