“Target,” by David Roderick, and “The Marine,” by LS McKee



In this land of no origins
            it’s where we hurried
plastic sacks in plastic
            carts, and where we carried
on in the cardboard trade,
            carriages wheeled across
stretched tar, all of us crows
            crowned, it seemed, all of us
together though we’d lost
            somehow a tribal sense of space.
There was a black spot
            at the center of each day,
night’s negative, amber
            burned around a blind rim.
This was the sun, determined,
            especially in summertime
when it grew its red mane:
            an ancient face made older
by what it saw when it gazed
            at us through the hole
we’d scratched between.
            Gold cool in the lion’s eyes.
Tail twitching, lackadaisical
            while we traveled inside
conditioned air, protected
            awhile from our own exhaust,
our eyes’ peripheral itch.
            Did we know we were the last
of the race of shorn beasts?
            Yes.  But since we gunned
on credit, and were dazed by
            the colors sold in the pavilions,
we couldn’t hear the voice
            above saying, You there, in
the dark, you.  Job shaved his head,
            but still the lice bit him.

David Roderick



The Marine

In the movies, he’s a man you’d marry before the war begins.
Crisp and starched, light reflecting on every strip
of polished leather. He is this impressive, immaculate,
unattached.  Planes of muscle, bicep rising against the sleeve
of his uniform as he lifts his bag, takes the seat beside you.
He is a man who has the look of going somewhere
he can’t expect. The jetway unlatches. Shoulders slumping,
twirling drink, he whispers his name so close to your ear,
you taste his aftershave in the ice between your teeth.
Shudder of take-off, fingers drumming against his knee
keeping the space still, asking your name, repeating it.
His name is Adam, hat in his hands like a mound of earth.
In the dimming lights, passengers collapse into awkward
sleep. They dream of anything but him. Knowing only
the machine pulse of blue light against their sofas,
against the sleeping foreheads of their school-worn children
as night heaves its air against the metal doors.
But does he love you,  he asks when you mention another’s name.
His hand drifting to your knee in sleep. A little drunk. 
Both of you pretending there is nothing to fear.

— LS McKee

Original poetry published by The Rumpus. More from this author →