Matt Bialer: Two New Poems

Matt Bialer is the author of six books of poetry including Radius (Les Editions du Zaporogue), Already Here, Ark, Black Powder, The Bloop (all from Black Coffee Press) and Bridge (Leaky Boot Press). His poems have appeared in many print and online journals including La Zaporogue, Green Mountains Review, Gobbet, Forklift Ohio and H_NGM_N.

Cultural Weekly is proud to premiere these two new poems.

*****

TELL THEM WHAT I SAW

They are trying to revive me
Floating above the Resus Area I am part
Of a study – The Division of Perceptual Research
The white patches of heaven on my chest
Emergency medical physicians, nurses, technicians
Lean over me Outside I can see my wife, two grown sons
Weeping, a prayer circle Psalm 34:19 The Lord
Always brings us through My son’s track and field gear
I’m above the nurses station Laughter, tonight’s double date
At the Well My mind more clear Bright light everywhere
The doctor motions for the defibrillator paddles to shock me back
I remember, the boys little, we climbed Mt. Greylock – miles
Of farms, the curve of the earth They commence cardiopulmonary
Resuscitation, even pound my chest I can see the video monitors
Placed at the top of the ceiling Psi Effects Altered States
Of consciousness If I come back, tell them what I saw 15 feet
Above: Two cheetahs
Racing across a great yellow plain A finish line Kingdom of Light

***

PAST LIFE

The nightmares haven’t stopped
Kicking, thrashing His mother wakes
Him, he’s screaming 3 year old boy, otherwise
Happy toddler Flopping around in his bed
Like a broken power line Then the actual words:
“Plane on fire! Blue Bear! Little man can’t get out!”
At Hobby Lobby – lifts a balsa wood propeller plane out of
The bin “That’s not a bomb Mommy. That’s a drop tank”
Distinguish World War II planes – P-51 Mustangs, Spitfires, Wildcats
Drowsy in bed, reveals that he flew a Corsair, Japanese shot him down,
Blue bear again, the name of the ship he took off from With my wrinkled
Hands I dust off the photo frame, bleached shot of him, smiling from
The cockpit – 65 years ago

These young parents of a boy, hearing the memories of my decades
Lost older brother Boy’s father, an oil executive, doesn’t know
Why he is at this reunion This is crazy USS Natoma Bay
San Diego, Grant Hill ballroom Frail veterans at tables:
Maps, journals, photographs Chasing his son’s memories, not yet
Potty trained My brother’s memories No one knows what
Blue bear means Someone’s nickname? He finds the best
Friend his boy mentioned – Jack, rear gunner, now in a wheelchair
Bullets and bombs exploding everywhere, aircraft overhead
Plane right next to him – his friend, my brother, last mission
Raid near Iwo Jima, March 3, 1945 Hit head on, middle of
The engine Nothing but debris

Boy’s father calls Doesn’t want to upset me
He and his wife believe their little boy –
My long dead brother Can they visit? Fly to Springdale
From Baton Rouge My big brother 6 feet tall, 21 years old
Loved flying Sang on the radio, in a choir Red Sails in the Sunset
Before basic training took me to the county fair Water guns,
Spin and Win Lots of prizes Down the midway – fireworks
Bursts, rings of gold-green stars, twinkle and flutter down An
Old lady now, I wear my plaid blouse, black slip-ons Serve
A bowl of nuts The boy, five now, calls me Annie Parents
Say it’s rude He was the only one who ever called me that
Our older sister Ruth, gone now Calls her Roof Mortified
When Mama took the job, common maid Boy’s father asks
About the blue bear I shrug, tell them I don’t know After
They leave, out of a cardboard box, the clear plastic bag –
Charred blue teddy bear I can still smell the gasoline

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