Devon Balwit: Three Poems

Happy Hour

Someone has knit and purled cirrus
             into weave,                     the lightest angora

over backlit blue. I drift and listen to a story
             of modafinil,                   the way it sustains

without sparking irritation, unlike adderall.
             The fake ID                     has been re-pocketed,

tattoos all around. We sip as we would in Europe,
             intergenerational.          I am one

climbing back into youth through an unlatched window,
             mindful                            of lolling

dogs. For years, I’ve toyed with nothing that couldn’t
             be bought                        at the corner grocery,

my mind already a storm-dancing wire. I’m sad, but two’s
             my limit,                           more

and tomorrow’s a sick headache, a papier-mâché slathering.
             I am as cool                     as I will ever be—

Not very. I admire a lean Mohawk, boot-striding
             the sidewalk.                   He looks elsewhere,

me the wrong gender and old enough to have crowned him,
             the only way                     he would part

my thighs. After each tale, I release a head-turning
             guffaw,                               popped

like a champagne cork from effervescence.
             Heads turn,                        but I refuse

to quiet. This room is eclosion, an unseen metamorphosis.
             What                                    will I be

when I pay the bill and rise? While not her, exactly,
             surely more                        than I was.

*

The Eve of the Poetry Reading

Hearing the fierce mask magnify
The silver limbo of each eye

— (From Sylvia Plath’s “The Fearful”)

Am I a Gorgon? I ready myself
to read to no one, to send out

my baleful eye over empty chairs.
I say it doesn’t matter, dust off

the audience of one adage, a lie
told so often I snicker in my sleeve,

prepare excuses before I need them—
multiple readings elsewhere,

a lecture series downtown.
It’s practice anyway, at the podium

with my affronted darlings, pushing
them forwards, like my son, years past,

toward threat. Be pugnacious, now.
The playground’s vicious.

*

Somewhere There Is an Acronym for This

And my child look at her, face down on the floor,
Little unstrung puppet, kicking to disappear

— (Sylvia Plath, “Lesbos”)

It happened more than once. The third child left
somewhere, daycare providers running after,

You forgot the baby! Or later still, the baby,
now a boy, banging on the car door as I pull away.

Mom! The children saying something to me
as my mind wanders. What? What?

danced just on the edge of keys? They crap, and
puke, and cry, days unfurling like toilet paper,

identical, shit-smeared. At some preschool meet
and greet, a mother says, I love them more than

life itself. There is nothing I’d rather be doing.
She’s blown her tubes like a bad radio. Me,

there’s any number of things I’d rather do,
stand on a cliff-edge and scream just to hear

the echo. Meanwhile, there’s a stink of fat
and baby crap. I’m packing the hard potatoes

like good clothes. The teacher calls. Then
the principal. I let the phone go to voice mail.

I should wear tiger pants, I should have an
affair. Each day, just six uninterrupted hours.

The laundry piles up. We sleep on stained mattresses.
The children whine about food. I send them

to scavenge neighbor gardens. Make friends,
I say. Go somewhere.

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