Ruminations on cud from five of my fullest stomachs
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My brothers who are not my brothers,
who are my sisters, who like wildflowers
from season to season depend on wind, I’m
sorry it’s Saturday, that none of us have access
to the parts or schematics we need
to fix these broken-down engines
we’ve left scattered about. We found them inside us.
Feel free to overgrow them, to refer to us
as glaciers that passed through
ages ago. My brothers who are not my brothers,
who are my sisters but were once something more, thanks
for your blooming, your lips, for the springtime
buds Lucille calls these hips.
In a dream a crow and I are shared last night,
like a blind date, I was cast as Clarence the Angel,
the crow was George Bailey. If you bought
tickets to the dream I’m sorry
I can’t refund whatever it was you paid,
the ending was awfully French, or maybe
it was 1970s American based on the French, maybe
the crow got his wings and maybe he didn’t.
It’s hard to tell. Maybe the crow was a girl.
Maybe Bedford Falls is more pot than park
no matter who runs the bank. Maybe in heaven
angels work the night shift on the line
just like they do in Sioux City.
I wasn’t appreciating
the dumb but catchy song that wouldn’t leave my head,
wishing a sort of fist were winding up
in my belly, getting ready to throw a blow along the spinal column,
punching the song out through my nose,
like a hefty sneeze. The kid at the checkout
in the 14th week of a philosophy class
gave me his theory on the value of value. Buying
pecans and unsalted butter, I was thankful
for pie-making skills on Thanksgiving eve.
What the kid said replaced the song. There’s an avalanche
in waiting that would turn into a fly on my shoulder
if I could only remember that song. The lesson’s
this: you’ll grind your coffee beans
too fine if you engage your memory
when what you should be using
are mainly your hands and eyes.
When next you see steam
rise from that which, or who, seems to be sleeping, examine
yourself by asking if your focus is on the steam
or on the sleeper. It’s kind of like
checking the math, like you’re an equation
in mid-solve. The multiple choice options
are we or were or we’re. Hope you didn’t think
the answer was I.
Standing still and almost not-breathing,
you long for that catch-your-breath breathing
the body indulges in after flight.
You wish a big dog would bark from behind a fence,
giving you reason to scatter.
Matt Mauch grew up in small Midwestern towns between the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, in the snow and wind-chill belt. He is the author of Prayer Book (forthcoming from Lowbrow Press) and The Book of Modern Prayer (a limited-edition chapbook forthcoming from Palimpsest Press). His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in NOÖ Journal, DIAGRAM, The Journal, Willow Springs, The Squaw Valley Review, The Los Angeles Review, Sonora Review, and elsewhere. The editor of Poetry City, USA, Volume 1 (forthcoming from Lowbrow Press), Mauch teaches writing and literature in the AFA program at Normandale Community College, and also coordinates the reading series there. He holds an MFA from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and lives with his wife in Minneapolis.