Two Poems by Jay Sizemore

My despair trivialized

Every morning I wake up with gun smoke on my lips,
despair like reflected light off a dropped atomic bomb
caught in that tinnitus, my head a seashell that never shuts up.
I’m a car crossing the white line, road bumps turning noise
into more noise into an airplane propeller winding up for takeoff,
last flight to Indonesia, December 25, 2004, bring a camera.

The glaciers are melting. The ice that thaws will never be that shape
again, will never yearn toward canyons and valleys like tooth decay
in the mouth of god. Instead, the Netherlands are getting their feet wet.
My despair seems trite compared to an entire nation of squishy soles.

Most men die between blinks, trying to remember something,
like who’s birthday it is, when the universe asks them to unfold
like a samurai blade in reverse, back to the raw elements,
a seppuku of human will pitted against unrelenting indifference.

Coincidence mocks our attempts at self discovery. Just the act
of deciding what shirt to wear can mean life or death,
looking left or looking right, the first frost of winter a holocaust
for mosquitos and the hope of the homeless. Give them books
of poetry about the beauty of life’s struggle, and they will burn them
to stay warm. There’s poetry in every camp fire keeping fingers unfrozen.

Repeating mistakes

I knew divorce was on the horizon
when her face took on that look
of translucent skin stretched
over the skull of a goldfish,
her mouth a dark circle of exhaustion.

She said he was a horrible, repulsive man,
someone who would rather clean his guns
than clean himself, a native of the forest
of couch cushion and unwashed clothes,
pale blue eyes vacant of dignity

telling her he would give her spending money
if she would suck his cock once a week.

There was that brick house,
with the picturesque tree and the wind chime,
the basement he wanted to kick my brother out of,
threatening to strangle him with a Metallica t-shirt,
while the hunting channel showed pictures
of deer perking their ears up in the background,
oblivious to the cross hairs.

I imagined him crawling on top of her
in the middle of the night,
his tongue like a slimy tobacco leaf,
his matted hat hair plastered to his scalp,
his beer gut pressing down into her lungs,
as he used her mouth for his spittoon,
drowning her screams in brown juice.

On her nightstand there was a photograph
of him and her with her first turkey kill,
both of them in matching orange vests and camo,
behind them a thicket of wild branches
and broken bits of gray winter in between,
them holding up the plumage of tail feathers,
smiles not revealing any secrets
that the colors of the world would wish to keep,
and two years later, she forgot she told them.


Jay Sizemore writes poetry because he needs to. His attention span is too short to write novels. Blame the internet. Some of his work has seen daylight in journals online and in print. Although he considers a day job to be the enemy of imagination, he has found poverty to be the cruelest of muses. He lives in Nashville, TN with his wife and three cats.

Lead image“Mouth of the Matanuska Glacier – Alaska” (via Flickr user Dhilung Kirat)