Thom Ward


Who you are and how you go
merge, but not before you wait it
out among plastic seats.
Thereís fresh wax on the floor,
some plants drooping brown
above each booth and a girl has bent
to the eye-test machine,
her butterscotch legs enough
to take you down the stupid roads of desire
until 158 is called. Such a number
is not likely to happen soon, and thatís good --
youíve stumbled into a poem
welcoming the not likely, the strange,
things disparate or black
at the bottom of the marsh,
trumpets on leashes, porcupines
with cigarettes, the old
as the pickup sweeps wide
and into your lane.
Draw comfort from the theory
of a hundred billion stars,
the protracted sibilants
of background radiation, all those
supernovas blazing, galaxies
rushing off with their throttles
cranked, not likely to return.
Though the real work
is to hammer your own
assumptions toward the prospect
of raw insight, especially since
you habitually regurgitate
what others think. The man
in the seat to your right
continues to crack bubble gum.
Such rhythm is nothing less
than the play of brushes over snares.
Blue lights flash above each booth.
134, 135.  Isnít eye test
another name for cosmic dwindle?
Hope a heavy foot and a full tank,
the possibility our Lord
will be grading on a curve.
If you slept here all week
you might end up cooking
for the woman who smiles
as she allots these numbers.
And when the forceps finally yank
your child out from under the hood
of her body, everything else
would fall into some kind
of lucid sequence,
and youíd understand
itís never about the urge
to make sense, to ask why,
only what you do with how you go,
this little, not likely existence
through which you so wondrously,
helplessly move --
green heart, yellow heart, green heart, red.

Date of Birth: May 25, 1963
Location: Palmyra, New York
Occupation: Editor / Development Director at BOA Editions / Teach poetry workshops in elementary and high schools and the Writers & Books Literary Center
Books: Small Boat with Oars of Different Size (Carnegie Mellon Univ. Press), Tumblekid (Univ. of South Carolina-Aiken), Various Orbits (Carnegie Mellon, forthcoming April, 2003)

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