Dear Unknown Friend,
Like many boys
I was unprepared for the man
I was to become.
You with your torso
Between us a workshop spark
from grinding the metal structure
of our friendship.
Sturdy yet hollow
these footfalls move us toward
the vexed rest of our lives
teeth not always brushed
ears full of Everglade sludge
our skin like a topographical map of the moon.
Day by day
pinned to the ground,
we back into ourselves.
Despite the trouble
that wells up from within
we are kind and full of love
we don’t know how to express.
Sunday Afternoon, Kroger, Aisle 8
Halfway through my shopping list
produce crossed out
and bread, rice and beans procured, I’m
suddenly dismantled in the spice section,
my soul sloshing in the bottom of a skiff
in the kosher salt breeze.
Here, far from the geometry of bedsheets
the old rhinoceros of gloom
jumps on my junkpile of memories.
I feel his weight and lean against the marshmallows.
Here, it seems impossible to turn that bag of beans
into a steaming cup of carefree friendship,
the sun slanting down under clouds of nostalgia
teasing curls from my recumbent heart.
There’s a spillage on aisle eight
but no one notices. Is 3:33 p.m.
too early to go to bed?
Sunday afternoons used to find me happy,
painted up and shouting at zebras on the television
not desperate on aisle eight
looking for an escape.
By Tuesday night I’ll be alright,
lemon pepper and sea salt on the tilapia,
Sarah dissecting her day, customer complaints
gently flitting into the bug zapper,
another revelation on the horizon for hump day.
Almost time to wake
get ready for work
a good moment
to go back to sleep
to reverse and
back out of Wednesday
raising mama from the dead
skinnier and younger
and there’s our boy alive again
so we shrink him and hire a doctor
to shove him back inside
and there’s my father, a mended puzzle
his kind calm self again
joyfully I’m forgetting
every pain I ever learned
moving in with my Lazarus parents
more oppressive than I remember
beautiful and unrecognizable
a garden of endless delight
we un-bite a piece of fruit and offer it
to a surprisingly sympathetic serpent
Brian Builta lives in Arlington, Texas, and works at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth. He has recently published poems in Tipton Poetry Journal, Main Street Rag, South Florida Poetry Journal, Thimble Literary Magazine, and Triggerfish Critical Review.