She Keeps Trying to Tell Me

by John F. Buckley

Don’t probe your ears with it. It’s meant for
the canker sores, the gasoline, the kitten
in heat. Stop

listening. There’s nothing to glean
from the cars at the drive-through
seraglio. One has a wifebeater. One

has a parka padded with dollars.
One has a trunk of inordinate twitches,
an elephant’s worth. Put your hand

on the dial and twist it
sharply to the right. Can you pick up
the keening? Can you elicit a sour-apple

elegy? Now is the moment of grubs
into thoroughbred officers. Once
we were powdery, wriggling on sheets.

Now we advance down the track, stinking
and driven, striped mature. Stop trembling.
Don’t glance away. The cardinal

rule is a scarlet right angle, held in the teeth
for the ball-peen, the tool for a turgid vibrato
shaking the molars, wringing the bowels.

Focus your attention here, on this
spot here, on this mark here, on this.
This. Scoring of victory soaks through the linen.


You’ve been wandering for a while. Choose a place to rest:

Tallmadge, Kansas.
A dark cave–an inescapable place of fire.
A world where girls longed like her, and went where they wanted to go themselves.