Two Poems

Changing Tense

Time travel is peanut butter and jelly,
a sandwich coming apart in a blender
and reorganizing as cake batter
or as a bowl of fresh berries;
reorganizing as a woman from my youth,
the one I loved, and she’s still grinning
like a cheese quesadilla. Time travel
delicious as a kiss on her lips,
the kiss that turns whatever day it is
back into summer. School just got out.
A radio’s on loud. Roll the windows down.
We sing together until all scrimshaw and lamp oil
uncarves back into whale, and swims.
The ocean is alive again.
Nobody will ever invent plastic.
When my parents speak,
their advice makes sense.

Chortle Blue

A laugh in the sky’s throat.
The wind music says our names
to the page in alphabetical order. Each word
smells like ink and breath. Which one?
Each word tastes like licorice and night.
Each word smells like a guttering candle
on a sunlit day. Each word sounds like itself
and someone else. Say it faster. Each word
is a vibration and a wind. The weather
sounds like syntax driving a truck full of daisies
and trombones. When the truck arrives at the proper name
of a place and a person—I’m thinking about an ex-wife
and the list I found of the least livable cities in the world—,
the internet offers a picture of boys aboard an abandoned boat
collecting recyclable items in polluted waters
in front of fishing boats at Fish Harbor in Karachi, Pakistan.
The internet offers a picture of Damascus, Syria.
The internet says, “Damascus has seen a stabilization
in its dramatic decline in liveability
but remains at the bottom of the cities surveyed.”
I don’t have an ex-wife. And even if I really do,
I don’t want to talk about the time an elkhound
ran her over at a dog park. We are all in the sky’s throat,
unless you’re reading this poem. Then, you’re in
a Porsche or a pork chop or something else delicious
that starts with a “p.” It's like the President says,
“Hey, I'm the President of the United States!
I'm not the President of the globe.” The blue hand
of luxury fingers itself. And then he resigns
and apologizes and disappears. The eggs remember
how to grin. Some even smile. They will come
to your house to ask for toothpaste, and you will
give it to them. The sky-filled words
will already be said by the time you realize
where the clouds have gone. Il pleure dans mon couer.
The sky forgives you and laughs again.

JACK MARTIN's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Ploughshares, Georgia Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Diagram, North American Review, Matter, and other journals.

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