J.W. Burleson photo / Boquillas del Carmen, Coah.


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Brooklin, Maine, United States
We own a 1975 GMC Sierra Grande 15 in Maine and a 1986 Chevrolet Custom Deluxe 10 in West Texas. Also a pair of 1997 Volvo 850 wagons. Average age in the fleet is 28 years--we're recycling. I've published 3 novels: THE LAW OF DREAMS (2006), THE O'BRIENS (2012), and CARRY ME (2016). Also 2 short story collections: NIGHT DRIVING(1987) and TRAVELLING LIGHT (2013). More of my literary life is at www.peterbehrens.org I was a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study for 2012-13. I'm an adjunct professor at Colorado College and in the MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte. In 2015-16 I was a Fellow at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The Autoliterate office is in Car Talk Plaza in Harvard Square, 2 floors above Dewey Cheatem & Howe. SUBSCRIBE TO THE AUTOLITERATE DAILY EMAIL by hitting the button to the right.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Eva H.D. poem. "Door Prize"

               Door Prize

There is a slang to all jobs, like there is a

romance in each office block –

when you're a courier on the road

hard or slackass through the weather's

doggerel, and you get slammed, passenger-

sided, Henry Forded in the ribs or hips or

unlucky you, bloody milktooth mouth

(That a ketchup sandwich, or are you

just happy to see me?) they call it the

Door Prize. Comes out of nowhere,

much like everything else.

He used to slide into your Sundays that way,

a flung T-bone, perpendicular skid into disaster,

ricochet your day of rest from macaroni to straight

bourbon, flick of the wrist. Hauling on his

cigarettes like transatlantic flights. Like each smoke

was a mainsheet he was fighting, against the gale.

I didn't slide into your goddam

Sunday he'd say, you rammed into mine.

I was just minding my own business he'd

say. You'd go, The body is neither a prison nor

a cage nor even a metaphor for those things–

or anything other than what it is: a green tree

in a spring garden. Keep it down, he'd say.

Bruise-driven and road-wracked you tried

to bargain your body away, first for the untendered

shade of the solstice noon, then the drowned rat

Atlantic, finally the maw and paw-shaped chip

in his shoulder. The calluses started flaking

off your fingertips. That wager you made

of your own flesh. The failed rhyme of gristle on steel.

You said, I need to become an Olympic record broken

or a drag king's spirit gum or the angriest man in the room,

the evacuation of Dunkirk, anything itching the brink

of something else, anything but a tree or a sidewalk or a cage.

A bear – with its paws and fat and fierce and limblength

stride and winterlong, and that winter heart

of a bear which is larger than a hospital, a closefisted

cross or the moons of Jupiter even, or falling in love.

He'd say that love is not a closefisted

cross and you'd say, Is that the mouth you

cross your mother with? Simmer down, he'd say.

I am not a beautiful woman on your couch,

you would remind him, or an old man in a dive bar

on Bloor Street, I am not the girl who will

blow you in the alley for five dollars – not even

a shortstop, or a brontosaurus, or Willie

Mays! Simmer down, he'd say. I never said you

were Willie Mays. The park through his window

one frozen syllable, speechless with new snow.

It was not yet spring. The list of things we weren't

is longer than a hot shower, a cricket match,

that awkward eulogy pause: He – I – we –

(Tissue.) Excuse me. I'm sorry. Forgive me.

You can choose to ask forgiveness, but you might

not get it, like every damn Sunday of your life

you can bet that dark horse'll show and still die

poor. If you deny being a bear with a bear's irascible

paws and heart and appetites, you might

get booked as a beautiful woman, give

the wrong impression. The correct words are Yes,

officer. No, officer, I've never done this before.

I swear it came out of nowhere.

There won't be a next time, I swear.

                                                                                 --Eva H.D.
                                                                                 by permission of the author. ©2018 Eve H.D.

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