If you only have a bad lover,
then a bad lover it is.
You discover him among
the easy men, stick him away
with memories of evenings and gin.
In the opera of the bad lover,
he sings an aria of fists.
In the rodeo of lousy amour
he’s the bronco that busted you.
When anyone asks,
you say he’s a prince.
Come, tell us your story of infatuation,
the saga of how it collapsed.
You Will Take A Strange Journey.
You will call it “my Life.” It will begin with a brief second your parents call “childhood” that you will misremember ever after.
You will endure an even shorter moment known as adolescence. You will masturbate. You will feel like a stranger even among your friends.
This will be followed by a few years of promiscuous sex and experiments with mind- altering substances.
It will then be time to, as your aunt says, “grow up.”
You will choose a meaningful profession, which as it proceeds becomes painfully boring. Or take a stopgap job, which will turn into a lifetime of labor. Or you will find a way to never work. This will be called being a lawyer.
You will or won’t have children. This will elate or dismay you. Or both.
…at 70 you’ll plant olive trees… *
You will watch TV. You will fall ill. You will wonder about death. You will find out.
* Nazim Hikmet
Elegy for the Pig
After we give the painted concrete pig to the dump,
our white headlights scissor the trees at the limb line
while over us leaves rustle like the dresses of prelates.
We do not mimic the clatter of the rock and creek.
We are silent, devout in the landscape but we sink
and sink, silent as schooners, not because of the pig’s death,
which after all hasn’t happened, but because our possessions
peel and crumble and must be tossed out,
because our sell-by date moves with us silently
like the presence of leaf fall and shipwreck prays over our lives.
Wendy Taylor Carlisle lives and writes in the Arkansas Ozarks. She is the 2020 winner of the Phillip H. McMath Post-Publication Award for The Mercy of Traffic and this spring, Doubleback Books reprinted her 2008 book, Discount Fireworks, available free at: Doubleback Books. Her website is www.wendytaylorcarlisle.com. Photo by Greg Comnes.