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Friday, May 13, 2011


by Rick Marlatt

Good afternoon from the fortunate winter.
It’s 8 degrees, & I grill brats in the snow.
The meat shakes as it sizzles, the cheese cries
for more heat. I know nothing of suffering.
The snow falls in heaps. It’s like nasty children
who want to hurt each other. How can they know
cruelty you ask. We only know what we’re taught.
A goose barks at me from some misguided altitude.
In Libya fists are forming to the tune of a silent ocean.
I reach through the radio to latch onto their hands.
I can feel their armaments. The accountants flash
their calculators. An engineer jabs his penknife.
Math teachers hum while they sharpen meter sticks.
Once for running the halls, a teacher yelled rebel.
This thought makes my stomach hurt.
When I was young I was scared of dogs, belts,
a particularly mysterious dream lion, & Freddy.
These kids are memorizing their futures in smoke.
I want to build them each a teddy bear, colorless,
out of the earth’s grimiest greatest stuff. Arm
them with two slingshots molten with marrow,
one for their aim & snap, one for their bear.
I’d jam the loot inside my backpack.
I’d call the goose down from his white walkabout.
I’d strap him up with instructions for the mission.
In flight he sees the world unfasten in shades.
He feels direction bop inside his veins,
instinctual rhythm, cadence & candor,
a feral wind whipping him toward the fire.

Rick Marlatt holds two degrees from the University of Nebraska, as well as a MFA from the University of California, Riverside, where he served as poetry editor of The Coachella Review. Marlatt's first book, How We Fall Apart, was the winner of the 2010 Seven Circle Press poetry chapbook award. His most recent work appears in New York Quarterly, Rattle, and Anti. Marlatt writes poetry reviews for Coldfront Magazine, and he teaches English in Nebraska, where he lives with his wife and two sons.