Jim Daniels

Two Poems


We were tipping over like aging trees, our roots rising, shaggy with dirt. Had we missed the storm that did the damage? What had lifted us into brittle clock hands, whittled us into slivers, rocked our boats over into murky numbness? Were we not soldiers in the active army, were we not fluent in the language of moist passage? The questions twisted us into unpleasant doubts, the hump-backed crones of simple children’s stories. If we were both passengers, then who was steering, who had worn down the brakes to metal on metal? Our horns were weak and mournful. We scratched our bark against each other and our teeth fell out and it was worse than our bite because suddenly all our bills were dutifully paid. Nothing left to forgive or save for, our travelers’ license expired. Our frayed strings no longer bound us to shore, but the wind had died and the current swirled in on itself. We were all vehicle and no tenor. Timber! Fore! The house of cards, the improvisational landscapes of unmapped dreams, solidified into fortresses and long, straight roads. We had our combinations memorized and we filled out our forms with dull pencils with fresh erasers. I had an accident today! Did you hear the weather forecast! If we were trees, why did both spring and autumn ignore us? We were on a rocket ship in a movie from the fifties. How would we ever get back to earth? How would we ever get off the ground? Someone was taking a chainsaw to our framed photographs on the mantel. Just sweep up when you’re done, you said, or I said, or we both said, our voices drowning in mad, polite fury.







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