Stays by Jill Alexander Essbaum
Everything alludes to the mood of us.
This color, for instance, the color of you.
Blood-blue like the walls of the house we share.
Blue-black like the ravels in my hair.
Everything habituates the shatter of our glass.
This tiger of yours that mauls on command.
Or yours, the upper hand of dispute.
The furnace you promised to fix but good—
But didn’t. But haven’t. Or: Won’t. Ain’t gonna.
A tainted summer of untoward words.
The unnerved synapse ‘twixt said and heard.
The lapse in my verve,
The slap of your verbs.
How every well we’ve dowsed runs dry.
The drowsy oh wells, the soused betrothals,
The stab-wounds we dressed up in bedclothes.
Everything augments the flaw of us.
The lusters we lack, the lusts we’ve glutted,
The delusions we’ve slutted on analyst’s couches.
Your Stalinist urges. My purges. I reach
For the one-two punch of panic pills.
You sit and sort the bills. A pair of parallel hells.
The gods that goad us know our names.
The books you read disclaim my pain–
And everything stays the same, the same.
This poem was selected by Russell J. (Readers’ Services)