I say poem, the phone hears problem. Maze, no escape. Driving with my mother in a manic state. The sharpness of her no. Telling it like it is. She says “Crazy!” trying to explain. Unanswerable strangeness of the human brain. Equations, undoable. How to keep sane the status she wants to return to. I say poem, it hears pulling. The friction of what isn’t yet, but forming out of air. A turkey buzzard circling the house in fluffy loops. Wondering where the next dead thing is. The slowness of July, stultified. Fired like taffy. The tension & sinew of it. How heat can pull you into yourself until you are nearly a corpse slumped in a chair. I say poem, it spits pole. Magnetic, opposites, so hot/cold. How I never know which way we’ll go. I’ll be the dial turned to the right, spurting cold lake water. You’ll be scalding from the stove, so direct. Down to bone. I am done. I say poem, the phone sees power. How to write it down true, essence. Ore of words. Quest for the pure vein. Then, clown. How I want to be funny, really, I do. But, these poems scare me, instead. Mirrored slivers, winking, or leering from their tiny heads, such foul mouths. Trying to turn upward into goofy. The poem as goof ball. So silly, so dear. But, so dangerous, too. What the phone knows that I do not. Poem as morph. Poem cannot be left alone.
Ellen Stone teaches at Community High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her poems have appeared recently in The Museum of Americana, Passages North, and Rust + Moth, and are forthcoming in Chiron Review and Bluestem Magazine. Stone’s poetry collection, The Solid Living World, won the 2013 Michigan Writers Cooperative Press Chapbook Contest.