Grey Whale: Lane County, 1970
For George Thornton
She molders. Shrouded in seabirds and the stink
of the sand. Dynamite, leeward heave-ho
tucked beneath her ribs, a jail for urchins.
He lights her fuse a quarter mile removed.
He hopes to deconstruct her, break her down
to chunks the gulls can scavenge. Carcass drawn,
she turns his mind toward beauty in the past tense,
toward checkmarks, toward skeletal shipwrecks.
When she erupts, it’s not a metaphor,
but an interruption. Dusty red fingers
crack the sky. She opens. Whole, unmanaged,
thunderclap body quarter mile removed.
Her together parts have no care for big
ideas, only for not coming apart.
She scatters her own ashes, and even
frightened birds won’t carry her away.
Lego Tall Towers
A ghazal for him
Eyes unfocused, he holds the controller in his hands,
tells you he doesn’t like you looking at him. He hands
you a cup, yellow Lucite, and doesn’t say a word. In the dark,
warm heat radiant, slow progress and upright habit in your hands.
“And I was peeing in the cup,” he says, and it means, “You can go now,”
go quietly. Watch the cup. Don’t spill. And you wonder what hand
you had in this. In bites from the corner of a cheese brick, in collapsed
Lego towers, mothers who will blame you, and others whose hands
lock loose enough that he will always slip through. You remind yourself
he is not a symbol, dump the cup, wash the splash of him from your hands.
The quiet of him erupts through the house, explosive. Stocking feet slip
over laminate floors, manic collision. By the time feet meet carpet, hands
sickle around bedpost, white eyes in the darkness cast blue. The seizure
takes him without apology, wrings the moisture from his bones and hands
him back stiff as December knuckles. You think every one will be the one
that kills him. You comfort his ears, your own heart. You wait until his hands
unclench. He blinks the halos from his lids, picks up the controller.
“And I was having another seizure.” Shoulder lift shrug. Your hands wring,
nothing left but to bob your head, say “I know.” He tells you
he doesn’t like you looking at him and slaps your hands to send you away.
Matt Fantastic says I have a million friends
The light that passes through stray red hairs on the surface
of glossy bathwater makes shadows that look like microscope slides
of fatal diseases. Filoviridae is just a fancy word for killer filaments,
which I guess is just a fancy phrase for twist and writhe,
fallen keratin columns floating like algae among the skin cells
and shampoo scum. I sit, shins like drowned tree trunks and count
the friends whose numbers I’ve lost. Friends like Fiestaware
cups in a move, like hairs in a brush, like flaccid prom night
carnations, and I wonder whether I still remember their birthdays.
Whether they know they were my safe place to sleep.
There should be a Facebook setting for that.
About the Writer
Jacqueline Boucher is an MFA candidate at Northern Michigan University, where she studies spoken word poetry and its ties to social justice and community organization. She currently serves as Spoken Word Editor of Passages North. Her work has appeared in The Butter, Enclave, and Tidal Echoes. When she’s not making poems or teaching college composition, she spends most of her time thinking about the banal secret lives of supervillains.