7.01 / January 2012

Two Poems

Elope

listen to this poem

I stop feigning virginity in the A.M.
God had found us traversing New Mexico
byways, His breath smelling of brimstone.

Evangelists hailed the airwaves all night,
mouths pressed to microphones
for the devout dressed all in snakeskin,

repeating: like greedy hungry lions
that see their prey, and expect to have it.
We rambled through rust-colored

rock to find a good, strong preacher
station. With the sound down, one
of us asked a question. The other cranked

up the volume, and the preacher answered.
Later you were oblivious to the devil
rocks, asleep in the passenger seat.

We were both childish, having come
and gone the way childhood does.
I stayed awake debating myself.

I asked what my parents would think
and turned the sound up: Ye are from
beneath. And thither he is bound.

I asked about you next. The radio spat:
he flatters himself in what he has done,
in what he is now doing, or intends to do.

I pulled the car to your shoulder.
The shining dimes of night flies
colliding with the windshield had lost

their luster as dawn broke.
The radio cried, When you look forward,
you shall see a long forever, a boundless

duration before you, which will swallow
up your thoughts, and amaze your soul.
Every cloud is a muscle I build up.


Fire-Raising

listen to this poem

The playscape returned to fresh plastic,
melted into a map of the world when
it was Pangaea, we were all together.
A girl cries at her abandoned Barbie
seized by the plastic Dakotas.
Other girls giggle and guess
whose hair smells most like smoke.

Dad knows we can’t stay
on the gangrene lawn. Firefighters crack
the breastbone of our apartment
to get to the smoldering in the wall.
My growth chart curled up the doorframe
with the wallpaper and I am bigger
than all of you. I know who will take us.

Mom said depression is a thinking person’s illness;
we expect more from life than it has to offer.
Learning to live an average life is one solution.
Arson, another.


Matthew Gilbert escaped the scent of cow manure pervading his hometown of Coventry, Connecticut to become an MFA candidate in Poetry at Columbia University. He doesn’t miss it. This is his first publication in a place that doesn’t have “Review” in the name, which is good, because it was getting a bit worrisome.
7.01 / January 2012

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