"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.
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.