Tom Jacobs © 2006 All Rights Reserved
Looking at the Lines of a Poem Sideways
Like God you create mountains without much effort.
Tracing the arete with your godly finger
you envision your journey through the terrain, taste
the chalk and granite dusting your teeth.
Even the bighorn youíd toss the crust of your sandwich
is perched on that third line in the second stanza.
Then thereís fire. One canít label himself Almighty,
unless heís willing to burn something: a small forest of pines,
leaving only thin, charred trunks to spear the white sky?
But of course what is a god without a congregation?
So thereís the poppy field where Eve and Adam
first realized that sinning wasnít such a horrible thing.
Which leads to the embrace, the interwoven bond
between joy and sorrow, something only mortals
understand. And there you are, your complete human self,
standing alone, squinting out at sea, the black sails of Theseus
in the amber light of the desk lamp.
Out of all my instruments, the most prized,
the one I allow no one to touch.
The color of sunlight and atmosphere,
and when tilted the right way,
as if you were going to play it like a violin,
youíd notice the faint hint of turquoise.
I perform more dexterously with the blinds
drawn and the lights turned off: the electric
lime of the Pioneer Reverberation Stereo Receiver
is enough to keep bare toes from jabbing into coffee table legs,
knuckles cracking against doorjambs while windmilling.
After work, after Iíve uncorked the bottle,
the wine granting my first wish, I slide under the strap
and unravel my fingers on Wes Montgomery licks.
Itís well past midnight that I staccato through the house,
chugging on Hellís Bells as I rock on my heels,
balancing on flame-tips. And itís long after
the bars on Pleasant Street have closed, the sidewalks
overflowing with feedback and faces bent out of tune
that I play along with the song theyíre humming,
the one about home, and how itís a quartertone,
somewhere between C and C#,
and how we still manage to find the right key.
Joshua Michael Stewart is the editor of the online magazine Big Toe Review. His first chapbook, Ordinary Mysteries, was published by White Heron Press in 2004. His poems have been published or are forthcoming in Rattle, Diner, Berkshire Review, HazMat Review, Heat City Review, and Worcester Review. He lives in Ware, Massachusetts.
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