Beneath his blackened tan, blanched with privilege,
And beard (and dangling between his legs, privilege),
Is a thought to ride a bus, dollarless.
In the driver’s mirror, the quailing stench
On fellow riders’ faces tells: by type
He’s wrong. And the dark oppressed haven’t time
For sneaks-in-the-back and slow cop arguments.
They’ve jobs and hope for Starbuck’s. All exits
Flood to the bus behind the bus we’re on.
Your agrestic rats unrigged your kitten’s carrier.
Embedded in lake ice, her curdled mews froze.
By noon, she was a clattering pond
Of carnies barking for this freak Earth.
The surface tension bristles with sated bugs.
They settle into, or float from, the sunken fur
You conditioned downy. Drowned as near
As you were, the fleas and ticks bob to shore
To your pilates mat. What I recall about your rats,
Every cat, and you, haunts. Your hair in the bath
Was a kelp-bed for lice. I stripped them, with tight combs,
Off until my forearms tickled with runners
And my fingers took to your ribs.
Now you’re letters writhing with prickles
And marred photos with juice-sticky lips.
But here on the black sand each dawn,
You were a coda of measures, a straining girl
Through shifting poses; you were a theme
Of this world’s cantata, a musical pause
That was song in-itself, and a song of a song
That sings with maddening silence more
Than its sounds. All song. And I was not one
Michael Odom is the author of Boredom, Vice and Poverty and the chapbook Strutting, Attracting, Snapping. He is seeking a publisher for his translations from Catalan of poems by Joan Maragall and Lluís Roda. His poetry has been published in the literary journals, Clean Well-Lighted Place, The Henniker Review, In Posse, Pucker up, Watershed, and others, as well as two anthologies, Between the Leaves and Ritual Sex. Between 1989 until recently, he was a bookseller, Manager, and Buyer for both independent and chain bookstores. If you shopped for poetry at the Tower Books in Chico, CA, or Manhattan, in the early 90’s, you browsed the titles Michael Odom selected to have on sale in that store. The same is true in the final 7 years of A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books in San Francisco (which went out of business before the unrelated journal of similar title began) and Windows on the World in the Sierra foothills. As a single father with bookstores closing all around, Michael Odom pursued and recently received his MFA in Poetry from New England College.
Raised by foxes in the wilds of Barnwell, SC, Nancy L. Carney has been an artist since she could use her thumbs, but an artist with a degree in Illustration and Design since 2005. With a BFA in Painting from Clemson University in 2002 and an MA from the Portfolio Center in 2005. She has illustrated books, editorial pieces, and sells her work online and resides in Charleston, SC with her husband, baby girl and two pups. You can find her on the Interwebs at Lemon's Tree.