At the dentist’s office (“Summer is/ near enough/ to smell,// its teeth marks on the trees”), I reach into my pocket, find the pocket-sized book of poems I stowed there this morning, and realize with a start that it’s the official day for poetry in pockets. Serendipitous, or just creepy? (“Love bends/ like light// around/ found objects…”) I think that’s “Graceland” on the radio, but I don’t recognize the singer. (“The human cries/ of wounded horses.”) It’s been 11 years since my last visit, so they make me fill out a form detailing my medical history; I don’t have any. I’m tempted to select two or three of the chronic conditions just to make it look like I’ve read the form. (“Anything to restore mystery/ and unexplain the universe.”) But which ones to pick? They all look so attractive! (“Start from the premise that everything is broken.”) I’ve been coming here since I was a kid, and there was another dentist with the very same name, though they aren’t related. (“To polish a diamond,/ there is nothing like its own dust.”) There’s still the same beach scene on the wall and the same seagull mobile in front of it, both looking frayed and faded. (“The broken wave// repairs itself./ Life is contagious.”) Back home, I pour salt in my water and call it soup. (“Darkness// one drop/ in each eye// twice a day”) I sit out on the porch with the pocket-sized book, a little creased now from walking into town and back. (“The paper trembled.”) I remember the nest of stainless steel spoons beside the road — those damn kids and their wild tea parties! (“Oh, love,/ we’re beautiful// anarchy,/ birds nesting// in the holes/ made by grenades.”) As I pick my way slowly through the poems again, I listen to water rushing in the ditches, and grow certain that its cacophony of notes includes every word. (“The world is made/ of tiny struggling things.”)
Over at Moving Poems, I’m running a videopoetry contest using one of the poems from the book — which you can win a copy of if Howie selects your video as one of the top three. We’ve just extended the deadline for submissions to April 22. See the guidelines to read the poem (“Fable”).