Are We There Yet?
— Dobby Gibson

You only have to make her one grilled cheese
in the suffocating heat of summer
while still wearing your wet swim trunks
to know what it’s like to be in love.
And you only have to sit once
for a haircut in the air conditioning
with the lovely stylist to forget all about it,
and to forget that anything in the universe
ever existed prior to the small, pink sweater
now brushing softly against your neck.
In this world, every birth is premature.
How else to explain all of this silence,
all of this screaming,
all of those Christmas card letters
about how well the kids are doing in school?
We’re all struggling to say the same old things
in new and different ways.
And so we must praise the new and different ways.
I don’t like Christmas.
I miss you that much.
For I, too, have heard the screaming,
and I, too, have tried to let it pass,
and still I’ve been up half the night
as if I were half this old,
and like you, I hate this kind of poetry
just as much as my life depends upon it.
They’re giving away tiny phones for free these days,
but they’ve only made
a decent conversation more precious.
One medicine stops the swelling,
another medicine stops the first medicine.
Just like you, I entered this world
made and kicking, and without you,
it’s precisely how I intend to go.

 

the abandoned valley
— jack gilbert

can you understand being alone for so long
you would go out in the middle of the night
and put a bucket into the well
so you could feel something down there
tug at the other end of the rope?

 

The Pope’s Penis
— Sharon Olds

It hangs deep in his robes, a delicate
clapper at the center of a bell.
It moves when he moves, a ghostly fish in a
halo of silver seaweed, the hair
swaying in the dark and the heat — and at night
while his eyes sleep, it stands up
in praise of God.

Image: Shomei Tomatsu, Untitled, 1959

* * Contributor Andy Fox has worked as a private investigator and a bartender. He’s also edited a book of poetry and plays in the D.C. band Nice Breeze. He has published The Dust Congress since November 2002.