Friday, May 11, 2012

Zero Recovery

Photo: Hand stone water.  David Graham

It's my great joy to be able to feature some recent poetry by Josh English, whose work I've been following with close attention and delight since he was a mere pup.  Currently roaming the streets of Louisville KY, he'll soon be off to Tuscaloosa AL, where he will pick up a second graduate degree, and continue writing his fearsomely good poems.

Zero Recovery

One afternoon one pitbull
pounds its head against

a loose fenceboard
its blunt face a quill of splinters.

And when the wood fails –
first pinhole in a dam’s face –

it splits the neighborhood park open
to the calibrations of error and threat.

I heard rake tines drag
on cement nearby, their clicking

like a rotary dial returning to zero.
The pitbull ripped across the green.

When it snapped and fixed
to my dog’s throat, I knelt

in a kind of prayer
and pounded the dog’s face.

I say prayer because
of the reverent uselessness I became

as each fist splashed
off the dog’s skull,

each kick landed wet
while my dog was killed.

Try to split a boulder
with a bucket of water,

float a lake
so you won’t have to see it.

I wrestled a stone
from the lake bottom,

kicking my way to surface,
my arms crossed over the deep stone. 

My arms or lungs
gave out and the stone fell,

slow as breath rising,
back into the green-black.

I’d surface, gasp, then plunge back
to pat the silt, blind, for the stone.

Into night until
I couldn’t find it anymore.

But when the owner
loped across the park,

his dog released the throat’s wet hank,
and he hefted it by the harness

to his shoulder,
like a carry-on after a flight. 

And now each day I cruise
looking for him,

rage’s slick weight
on my chest, the branch tips

summoning bud,
the asphalt opening cracks.

My baseball bat in the passenger seat
absorbs each glancing shadow,

and the stone becomes
unbearably heavy and I can’t breathe

when I think I see his face.

--Josh English

No comments:

Post a Comment