Jay Sizemore


…….~after Bob Hicok

Imagine a horizon stained with blood,
clothes still warm from the dryer
unfolded and heaped in piles,
a holocaust of time traveling selves

happening every minute without smoke.
Your husband’s pale face a knuckle
on the fist of a ghost, working
at words like a wad of chewing gum.

You remember the ferris wheel
at the Barren County fair, those yellow lights
rimming conjoined ladders that spun
a galaxy of wants in your ribcage, his stubble

rubbing your chin raw. His smile
a haunted piano that played you songs,
now a crumbling chimney of teeth
set to grinding aspirin into dust.

Once he plucked a lily from the hillside
and threaded it behind your ear,
months before he turned you into a smurf,
palming packs of Sudafed from the pharmacy.

You’d find the bathroom door closed,
the acrid odor of flame against foil,
cooking something akin to torment,
a fish hook on each eyelid, pulling.

Before he pawned your mother’s rings,
before his skin seeped with ammonia,
he liked to warm his hand between your thighs,
to surprise you with ice on your neck.

There were nights you’d sit and watch
the bats swoop in and out of the lamplight,
and you’d feel like the bat, the moth, the light,
the blanket of pseudophedrine sweat

clinging to his skin like dew. He would promise
to change and you would believe he could,
the way a child believes reindeer can fly,
that stars contain the whispers of wishes.

But there you were, finding your infant boy
asleep on the floor, dried milk vomit
crusted to his chest, his body quivering
with naked cold, indiscernible rock music

blaring from the bedroom, door closed.
The night felt like hammer, heavy on one side,
a train whistle blowing without end,
a coffin you’d been burying with your hands.
When a man loves music

turn his back on his best friend if he put her down

…….~ for Percy Sledge.

he hears it everywhere,
he’s a walking saxophone
on the wrong side of a shadow,
and the stray dogs in the alley
singing out of key,
the rain doesn’t mind
just keeps drummin’
like an insane time lord.

When a man loves the city
he’s home in a crosswalk,
counting footsteps to a barstool
where there ain’t no cover charge.
He’d spend his last quarter
in the jukebox of small talk,
sleep out in the rain
to rinse the hole in his heart.

This man loves words
and all the ways they interchange,
he’d cut off his own face
just to prove he ain’t strange.

When a man loves the devil,
he’ll convince you hell is cool,
try to sell you a timeshare
when your wife is out of town.
He’ll say he’s friends with Elvis,
that he has the best cocaine,
that his penis is a microphone
no feedback could ever drown.

When a man loves music
it’s in everything he does,
from the scribble of his pen
to the way he beats his wife.
If a man loves his music
he’ll give up all he owns,
to write that next gold single
he’d give up his fucking life.
Interstate Epiphany

When my tire blows
at seventy-five miles per hour
on Interstate 65
the last thing on my mind
is skin cancer
or maybe it’s psoriasis
either way, when that sound
comes whirring in through
the windows
reminding me of a jet engine
cycling up for takeoff
feeling like the whole vehicle
is about to rupture space-time
and take me back to 1955
in a shower of white sparks,
when the whole car suddenly
vibrates and shudders
like an out of control locomotive
reverberating with echoes
of chaos and metal shearing metal,
the last thing I am thinking about
is how long my grandfather
has to live
the last thing I am thinking about
is why do bad things
why do bad things
why do bad things
happen in clusters of three
the last thing I am thinking
is when will I stop
being an asshole
what I’m thinking
is I need to turn up
the radio.
The Death Penalty

The bee that stung me flew away to die,
leaving my heel to itch and swell.
Pus grew into a nodule around pitted hole,
where the black stinger hung like a stem
a strand of white gut trailing
from a kite that would no longer fly.

The bee lashed out against an enemy
impossibly large, became a martyr
for pollen and honeycomb,
yet I felt no comfort in its death.
My foot ached, but would heal,
another scar on my body too small to see.

The bee that stung me was doomed to die,
and I thought of ones who might seek revenge,
those who would see such insect transgressions
as an act of war from the hive. Some are allergic,
they might say, people could perish
without epinephrine to open their lungs.

Better that all bees die than a single human life,
I never want to eat honey again.
And so came the WMD’s, the pesticides,
the chemical weapons fed to the hives.
An avalanche of silent wings until,
we’ve committed a slow suicide.

© Jay Sizemore

Jay Sizemore is not your enemy. He’s just a writer, someone who writes things and then spends weeks regretting it. Sometimes he questions the motives of the muse, but he’s handcuffed to her for life. You can find him at http://jaysizemore.com/, or, if you’re a stalker, in Nashville, Tennessee, where he may or may not actually exist. “Methamphetamine” was originally published in Live Nude Poems.

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