Hunger Mountain - Vermont College Journal of the arts

Cold Spring

by W.M. Lobko

Finally all this green
counters the red the pollen
has cast over my eyes
like half a pair of 3-D glasses,
complimentary colors
muddying up the works.
To me the ’50s loom like
the aliens a simpler populace
thought hovered just behind
Sputnik as their insectoid
mutants & 100-foot tall
women provided distraction.
They could be even more
zoom-wow upon us!
Yellow & green
has this effect on me after months
of breathing concrete,
I’ve evolved for it, gilled,
flat-eyed with the pupil
perpetually centered,
not dead but neither alive,
like my own wanted poster
with an old mug shot
flashbulbed while
some brusque sergeant
out of frame said no
smiling. Turn to the left.
Life has been like that
these days, urbane, inane,
the only anniversaries
penned on the calendar
good things, weddings etc,
which somehow makes it worse,
I’m too accustomed
to everything’s fine as a lie.
When I’ve seen green
it’s been in a slow cab
to no place I wanted to go,
to try to be
my killed brother
who couldn’t bring himself
to bullshit with the builders
less brawny than he was,
the fireplaces he sold
were meant for the earliest
stages of construction
as the home rises around it,
like dinner does
around flame or family
around a table. I own ours
with the centerleaf out.
I have stood in the Queens
crosswalk where on Thanksgiving
he screened my call,
the sidewalk in Brooklyn
where I heard what he did
while trying to skate
on an ice patch as big as my boot,
uncertain why
I couldn’t slide any farther.
I have attempted to go
a whole morning looking
no one in the eye, even the face,
how long could I go,
what would it do to me,
the failure to manage the task
for more than a block
the funniest grief I’ve had
in a while because it implied
the overlap of brothers
in matching sailor stripe
& genetic strings & moods
& summer T-shirts
was limited—Venn diagram us
& I’m the one alive,
the similarities only a sliver
& getting fucking infected.
Where are Watson &
Crick when you need them,
I thought, dragged
by Charlie out to the island
for what he called
a stint in the Poison Room
(pool & gin) when
out of a tunnel of fresh
summerleaf he drove us
past the lab complex
where they cracked the code,
lush as a farm
where you’d take the air or retreat
for the waters.
These landmarks huddle so quietly
it takes a guide to point out
where the breakthrough occurred.
Next his house
with a spaniel named Hank
& a badminton lawn out back,
which we never did
play enough of
if you asked my brother,
as soon as the snow opened
green pools in the lawn
he’d call us into them,
after dinner, in the dark,
he’d loft the birdie
& while it fell
he jerked & spun in place
like a terrible motor,
electrified so suddenly
his ace appeared at my feet
as though it was current,
was only a little time away from him.

Read Ballpoints/Homecoming by W.M. Lobko

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