Six Ponderosas

Stacy Szymaszek

A young man was standing among six Ponderosas
smoking a cigarette
on the edge of campus
after he left I stood in that spot and finished
my cigarette    why do the students on the chemistry
side look more radical than liberal arts?
a black pick-up I liked pulled out of the parking
lot but I couldn’t see the make    I worry about my vision
but I would rather grow half blind than 100 percent in dread
which is what not trusting anyone amounts to
I convince myself of the Buddhist mantra
NO BIG DEAL    noting the tarot astrologists all say
my Knight is the slowest moving in the deck
look that horse is . . . scuffing his toes!
spending so much time alone
is not made easier
by the intimacy of Missoula customer service
but it’s preferable to feeling like a paper bag
for communal hyperventilation
I know    I’m merely adequate too    while poems
can be astonishing and sometimes I
through them
can be    it’s true the deer
here will approach   anyone    they are tenderness
tempered with strength     I saw seven does on my walk
home    and for once thought my death
might not be so violent    having made my last payment
for the sins of  men    with pride in my morphology
sure bad things happened to Rome
even under Pagan watch    what city is defendable?
I dutifully looked for the nearest plastic tower
filled with sand    to dispose my cigarette butt
lest I start a fire    how carefully we try to live!
even with the boot in the face and the brute
brute heart of brutes like them


October 5, 2018