My friend gets in the backseat of my car with poems
by Carl and says, "I think Carl went back in time
and wrote my poems for me."
I downright bristle. No one notices.
Most people have a Carl somewhere in this world,
but they are usually rocks or passing moods, never poets.
I had found my Carl once, a cloud of smoke from a fire
in the desert. I tried to give it a ride home. It wouldn’t fit in my car
and I had to leave it. My friend reads a poem from the backseat.
It wafts to the front. Carl peers out from her smoky bedroom.
She drifts down the smoky hallway. I just keep bristling.
There is no end to what I can't understand.
I was just breathing & thinking
should I start a business
where I will turn your deceased
loved one's head into a fishbowl
for a reasonable price
Now I am unbreathing & thinking
you will be able
to look into their eyes
and see fish
Doris Cannon was the postmaster of Huntington County.
She delivered all the mail by hand. She grew flowers in
window boxes outside her house. Doris Cannon didn't
think anyone ever remembered her. I'm Doris Cannon,
she said at each door she knocked on. We know Doris!
said each resident. They really loved her. I'm Doris
Cannon, Doris Cannon said every day except Sunday.
You may remember me from yesterday, she said every
day except Monday. This went on for eighteen years.
The flowers grew and died with the seasons. When Doris
Cannon retired, the county threw her a party. Doris Cannon
walked around the party introducing herself. We know you!
cried everyone. The next day, each street in Huntington
County looked like a plank Doris Cannon did not want to
walk down. She peeked out through a crack in her shades.
I’m Doris Cannon, she whispered to her plants outside
the window, but now they too seemed alien, alien and
menacing. Doris Cannon watched every mailbox fill with
impenetrable cobwebs. A thick fog moved over the county.
Grey ash drifted down from the volcano down the street.
Doris Cannon locked her two-thousand year old front door.
This is Doris Cannon, said the tour guide in front of a house
with window boxes overflowing with crystallized flowers
as a quiet afternoon passed through Huntington County.
Especially when it ends
said Lionel, as he drilled
an extra hole next
to the extra hole
in his bowling ball.
When I see something new
and before I've decided
its value to me in the world
I always pause and ask
myself the same question:
is it gradable?
The car is gradable. It is very
Also its quiet passengers. They are sort of
Also loss, which is moderately
Also there is a machine
for these kinds of measurements.
We can't afford it.
We have stethoscopes
and listen to images.
This copier is throbbing
therefore it is gradable.
We are not so gradable.
We smoke cigarettes.
I give us a C+.
Ted Powers is the author of Manners (Mount Analogue, 2017) and Please Light Up (Slope Editions, 2015).