by Sampson Starkweather
I escape a tsunami in the soul, the kind
without fund drives, I spray-paint Ratio Fetus
on every bridge in Pennsylvania, I pray Project
Runway never ends, I need the thread, pinprick,
thistle of blood, empty spool.
I’m making a scarecrow. Now sell me
your kerosene. Sell me your singe. I want
these crows in my kitchen to cry, to hang
out their white tongues like hotel towels.
I’ve always enjoyed burning
leaves, little hands, serotine smoke,
the cracked sound of hope, each husk
sowed with its voice.
“Be an uncarved block of wood” my fans
would shout during tennis matches. My patience,
like my backhand, deaf, often run-around.
Born, buck-naked and brave like every other
good-for-nothing boy. Nobody arrived on llamas
bearing frankincense or myrrh, or so the story goes,
a Latino nurse brought my mother a chrome rose, stolen
from a dead man’s bed. Lungless child exploding
in pidgined silence. I’ll die with my diapers on.
I grew up to a constellation of chewed gum
above my head. I dreamed someday I’d take on
the shape that letters make. When my uncle died
I was in geometry class dreaming of battleships that say
“I love you” to the sea. My patience, moth-eaten and thin,
defeated by the dream, fat, ice-cream-chinned, in the corner,
grinning a toothless grin.
John Malkovich, Driftwood Sculptor— uncarve me,
discover my body, a block of buoyant wood, see it
as swan, the twisted torso of a tennis player, save
my serve, Mr. Malkovich, my poor toss,
my perfect soul.
Sampson Starkweather's most recent chapbook is The Heart is Green from So Much Waiting from Immaculate Disciples Press. He is also the author of City of Moths from Rope-a-Dope Press and The Photograph from horse less press. He is an editor of physics and chemistry books and a co-founder of Birds, LLC, an independent poetry press.