My Internist Prescribes
Guess it depends on which of your three eyes that you look at it with.
All I see, floating around me, is detritus.
The detritus of denied intimacy.
The detritus of the glib.
Like beautiful Venezia, you float in your gondola
and ignore the surfing turds.
Peripherally, if you take the time to stuff cotton wool up your nose,
there is the renaissance,
gargoyles in repose.
Pretty girls chinning crumbling window sills.
Perry Como crooning.
A strand of DNA showing off, curtsying,
vaguely remembering my ancestors days of slavery in Mitzrayim.
A novella performed in my arteries.
My internist prescribes,
The pills are orange and yellow and a gruesome sort of flecked turquoise.
I wash them down with lukewarm water
and the eye at the back of my head winks..
I pray in the morning.
I drink at night.
Somewhere in between there is the dog barking
the genuflecting of authority figures.
The urge for fried food.
A notion of racial purity.
Beethoven with his ear smushed into the piano lid.
The first names of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
The ten plagues always carry I.D.
“Hi! My name is Locusts!”
The facsimile of God that all those meaty boys pray to in football season
Knows that repetition causes cancer..
And in the Garden of Eden it rains and rains.
You think you’re in Manchester.
I’m not a bit religious, except when it comes to taking my pills.
Dear Yahweh, can’t wait to be a burden on my kids.
Long long time, they’ve cumbered me
So, soon they’ll deliver and carry
Bleach and clean and scrub-a-dub-dub.
And do it happily.
No Sun City for me. No old folks warehouse, please.
No special strangers tossing me
like some smelly old sack of shit.
Each must take turns putting me up
in a sunny parlor, so’s I don’t have to climb
to the top of the stairs. A nice
glimmering walk-in bath with handles installed
A minor cost….. Yours, of course.
The purpose of children is insurance
A girded codpiece against the testicle-kicks of mean daddy time
A guarantee. Insurance.
Yeah, that’s what kid s are all about!
Bring them up in your own image, knowing that they
Owe you and oughtn’t just farm you out
I’ve spent all the money on schooling and clothing.
Attended the ceremonies and soccer practices,
Cheered for you religiously at your games.
Knowing that, once you’re earning, you’ll be gone.
Only recreatable in photographic shrines,
Discount baby-sitting, birthday parties,
Christmas present competition and good Thanksgiving wine!
It’s been a blessing.
Now Lordy Lord Yahweh, dude.
I’m gonna be a burden on my children
Yes. And on my children’s children too.
is a native of Manchester, England. He is the author of A Peacock or A Crow and has published writing in Sonora Review
, The Sun
, The Long Story
, Actos de Inconsciencia
, The Review of Contemporary Fiction
and various other journals, including Burning Word
. He writes a weekly column on Premier League soccer for Global Football Today
. He thinks that a kidnapper who quotes Malthus may auger well for future sociopaths!
I say, Some parts of me are like this—
and open his hand
Rain water funnels into the pink
Thin channels of water
branching out and then contracting
as if surface tension isn’t a thing at all
He says he doesn’t understand
how I made him this way
I did it to show you, I say
made us parallel and reflective
He says, I cannot accept this
He means to say my body
but the word has too much shape
doesn’t fit well between his teeth
He searches for answers
but he’s too distracted
by the bright flush of stars
dappling the mid-day sky
How odd today is, he says
dragging his fingertips against
the cotton of my overcoat
I tell him, No—
This isn’t what you are supposed to see
and make with the unbuttoning
Underneath is a stretch of land
white, winter land with a center of melt
He turns to walk away
I am not this too
Yes, I say, you are this too
The Dialogue II
She says, Some parts of me are like this—
She says this as she undresses
exposing herself to him in the dead of winter
in a dead field under a shocked sky
This is the scene of it
the time and place of her opening
She tries to show him through his hands
but even this miracle is too small
He fingers her overcoat
his last attempt at softness
but she is angry
No, she says, No—
and removes every stitch
un-sews herself at the middle
All that warm begins to spread
out from her center and all over
her white skin
And the boy leaves her there—
A girl standing naked in a field
holding her heart
Zoe Etkin is a Los Angeles based poet, student and educator. She is a recipient of the Beutner Award for Excellence in the Arts for her poetry. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Burning Word, Poetry South and Glyph.
My grandmother, after her stroke
Here, you are in that nightgown, a girl
again, wandering the downstairs hallway
escaping some dream. Later I will find you
in the dark kitchen trying to remember
how to read the digits on the microwave.
In our house the bell was unexpected,
the cops even more so. A call about a gun,
my father’s rigid confusion, my mother’s balance
failing. I’m watching from the stairs thinking someone
must be dead. You’re there too, your hands aflame.
Gun! Your wild eyes. Gun!
One day you will remember only the glass, child,
not even the goldfinch tree.
Earlier, late Summer,
your glass back door already showing Fall.
Tell me about your girlfriend. You love
to watch me glower, all of eight.
You run a loose hand over my head and when
you call me so handsome what you mean
is that even now I look like him.
V. Frederick Clodius
The only photo I recall of us:
I’m holding Big Bird, and he is holding me
up against his chest, his hair long
gone to cancer.
I wonder how he smelled and sounded,
if when he found his brothers with his fists, his face
red with whiskey, there was any other way.
Tell the one about the city in winter, the blacksnow
closing-in, your father’s factory coat, your mother’s
disease, the dusty stairs in that house,
the gathering war, the hooded woman who could hold fire
bare you would become and never understand.
It is kinder under evergreen, isn’t it,
than in the white of hospital?
You knew this even when the tubes consumed you.
John oh John this place is guns.
It’s me, it’s Mike, it’s me
FM Stringer is a MFA candidate in Poetry at the University of Maryland. He grew up in New Jersey and studied as an undergraduate with James Hoch at Ramapo College. He currently lives in Baltimore.