Poetry: A Miniature Festival of Walls by David Dodd Lee

I come to—I’m always coming to—
maybe you’ve been there; the long yawn—you’re dragged,
struggling,
             into orbit, chomping at the light like a gar;
death, the ultimate buoyancy,
                                   the car on its rubber wheels;
the fog, the fog like a gurney
being pushed to the hospital mortuary. I tell you
this because
                   we get so meek behind the
buffet table (remember when we had buffet tables?), the orange
curtains that close
                                   as we turn
to seat ourselves near a window. There’s the face
I wake up with
and the face I sand down
to an even plane in the mirror.
                                   From there
it’s all flaxen—dreams and half-truths
invented by coffee and civilization.
                                        Dimensions,
and a sudden lack of focus; Get out of my shipping
lane
, cries the mutinous crowd.
                                     It’s almost noon
by the time I read about the million buried minks,
the apocalypse of their
                                   squirming, viral bodies
floating up through the already loosened earth;
rabid, unfettered.
                                   They’re no longer human drapery . . .
It’s still 2020 the last time I checked, the year of our Lord,
unconscious in the ICU, his face strapped
to a ventilator.
                                   He moans, as beside him
Javier moans, a span of sound
like the dark space that passes through us mindlessly
during sleep—a barge, or a big black sponge plunked down
over both eyes.
                                   The rumble of a retreating snowplow at 2 a.m.
                                   ;A hush, like the snow you can’t
hear falling                     in the wake of the passing ship
full of provisions
                                             and dead people.

David Dodd Lee is the author of ten books of poetry, including Animalities (Four Way Books, 2014) and Orphan, Indiana (University of Akron Press, 2010), as well as a forthcoming book of collages, erasure poems, and original poems, entitled Unlucky Animals. His poems have appeared in Guesthouse, Copper Nickel, Diode, Triquarterly, The Nation, and in many other places. In 2020, his short story, “Hawks,” was selected for inclusion in the annual Best Short Fictions anthology, published by Sonder Press. His collage work, accompanied by an interview, will be featured in a forthcoming issue of The Journal. He writes and makes visual art and kayaks in Northern Indiana, where he lives on the St. Joseph River. He is Associate Professor of English at Indiana University South Bend, where he is also Editor-in-Chief of 42 Miles Press.

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