Thursday, July 28, 2016

Matthew Conley

“That tattoo”

That temporary tattoo
is permanently

That tat
so you:
-unnatural blue

That tat
                 it's true,
I have my own bone

Matthew Conley

I’m humming through a tiny airport at near 90 mph watching the smoke from the Dog’s Head
fire off to the northeast news kiosk.
Wait that can’t be right.
Maybe: I’m sleeping behind the wheel somewhere outside of Albuquerque, Arizona, once called
Tucson, New Mexico in another life. Yeah
that’s it: I’m steering a Subaru bed using a round pillow while a big orange snooze button keeps
kinking the horizon ahead.
My “Teacher’s Summer” is turning into a year-long sabbatical in this transitional place called the
southwestern United States. My desert home is just another stop on the road trip, but this time
I’m leaving my library behind me like an ant: follow the chemical trail hint of divorce and social
For a decade I’ve been at the University of Arizona working with international students (the last
5 years) at the lowest acceptable (for American institutions of higher something) English
proficiency levels and it has been wonderful as in “full of wonder.” Having conversations with
young people from China & Saudi Arabia & Khazakstan & Angola & Mongolia is usually the
exact day I want to have on planet Earth. Occasionally attending workshops led by cutting-edge
experts working on problems I “solved” (hahaha) 3 years ago in the classroom. But when I spoke
up my speak up didn’t use the big words like their talk down. Yet.
And as much as America has been on fire this Summer of 2016, I have let my amicable end-of-
relationship proceedings be that much smaller in my mind. Life invites me to stress so to make
room I take brooms to my me. “Gone awaaaaay” are meat & alcohol. “Here to staaaaay” are
daily yoga & herbal tea. Preach a little & practice more. Now my last June in Tucson is behind me. That is something indeed.
Once the Sonoran sets me free I’ll 2nd Master’s Degree, this time in Education. Another U.S.
school, probably mid-Atlantic, a graying mid-90s Legacy wagon parked outside. Power to the
People This Summer “) -MjC
Matthew Conley was born in Walt Whitman’s hometown but prefers a tighter line. Most recently,
a poem of his appears in The Sonoran Desert: A Literary Field Guide (University of Arizona
Press, 2016).

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