"If You Leave the Radio On" by David G. Walker


"Since U Been Gone"

has been stuck in my head all day and I can't

stop yelling the chorus in my car, humming

inaudibly on sidewalks, free associating the lyrics

with missing children press conferences - I need

help. I listen to progressive metal, bands that

would slay Kelly Clarkson and offer her body

as tribute to The Dark Lord (or at least that's

what everyone thinks they would do) and here

I am fist pumping my way down I-91  

for shuttle buses to pass by filled with all my metalhead

friends (who apparently got a group rate or something)

to peer in and shake their heads disapprovingly

when they see that my hand is, indeed, in a full

fist and that I am not extending my index

and pinky in the air to signify that the music to

which I am listening would cause the greatest

ruckus possible. This is all your fault. All the love

you have given me, all the happiness you have 

brought me apparently made me soft. That time

you cupped my face in your hands when I was

hysterical and told me to 'man up,' the exact

words I needed to hear, must have been 

poison to my ears because when I swooned

- and men can swoon too, dammit - I must

have acquired a taste for that fluffy, cutesy,

habit-forming drivel of pop music that I have

always abhorred. It doesn't matter that that

music reminds me of the time we drove

down to the Cape on a scorcher with the windows

down (because apparently you cannot 

stand the taste of the artificial cool of the 

air conditioner) blaring music against 

the endless whirr of highway tires. I love you,

and I don't care what tumors I have to grow

to grow old with you.

"A Bright Candle Flame Sits Atop
a Steel Monolith" by David G. Walker


It’s a streetlight, okay?

We try to sound deeper

than we are, more emotionally

attune than any one of us

would ever be comfortable being

so we romanticize and say things like 

“a bright candle

flame sits atop a steel 

monolith” when we mean: glass,

lightbulb, pole, electrical current. 

 

We know nothing of life. We only

shout the loudest. We are jealous

apprentices waiting for our turn 

to dip our blade in water, pound

it silly until it looks something

like a sword. 

 

We stitch lace of meaning to words we did 

not write with needles made of

our squishy, brilliant brain matter

and expect it to stick. Parading

our theses about. Pomp and circumstance.

 

Sit.

Paw.

Roll over. 

Good boy.

 

We’ve gathered enough fluff 

for a foundation, almost enough

wind to send our castles in flight.

 

Now we sit counting raindrops

as commodity, future lines in poems

not realizing – or choosing not to – 

that everything grand in ink is dwarfed

in comparison when experienced.

 

So sometimes a streetlight is a streetlight.

The light it casts is not a symbol

for life, hope, and optimism. Its 

flickering is faulty wiring, not an expression

of dwindling vitality. It simply illuminates

so we don’t trip on cracks, drunk and stumbling,

coming home for the night.