by Brandon Amico
I’d like to speak with you about the horse
you named Tornado Warning, how its hooves clap
and slam our shutters to bits. Public opinion
will strangle the horse into mp3 format,
the horse will go viral and the landscape
heave in applause. The whole country, together
for once, will do The Wave, then curl over to sleep.
I’d like to ask you about my greying hair,
how it doesn’t wear my face right. Here’s the thing:
when you have a face, everyone expects it
to have an opinion on the Iraq War, especially
when it presents itself laurelled in the color
of wisdom, all thousand curling strands of it.
Even if my profile is in the shape of Iraq,
chin abutting the Persian Gulf, though my hand
can cup my mouth and its crowning vowel of No,
some still search my eyes, casting in the dark
for a glint of gold, something storied, reflective.
If I bow my head at the table but stop before
reaching my soup, is my deference to my dinner-
mates’ manners, or God’s? If made in His image,
is there a difference, does He look over to me
from four seats around the table? Here’s the thing
about a face: it’s temptingly soup-bowl sized.
I have no comfort with a God that looks back at me
from my broth.
I have no patience for he who would stare back
from gleam or liquid to contradict me, I’m trying
to be myself over here, not the jagged bit actor
with his secondhand parts—my Greek curls
blooming, my Emperor’s chin and Roman nose.
Their sharp turns a violence encased in amber,
I am come from violence and am decked in its spoils.
I would like to speak. Would like to say, Death
does not scare me—I was born into it. I’m trying
to be alive over here, but to whom can I tell this
who’d change the path of the comet
hurtling toward us all, return the balloon
I let go as a child—to see if it would keep going higher,
and though I learned it would, the knowledge
left me unfulfilled and wanting my balloon back.
Would that I could see my face now, then, irrevocable
uphill in time, could see the first moments loss
floated up to break the surface of my face to say
this is what I look like, enter daylight, enter snow,
against the same wind that tore the bright red orb
to a pinprick I slam the shutters closed, in truth,
myself, against the swell of clouds darkening afar,
so murderous with the heft of sun they hold, their burden.
Our next audio feature from our upcoming issue will launch on April 13th. Happy National Poetry Month!
Brandon Amico lives in North Carolina. His poems have appeared in The Adroit Journal, The Awl, Booth, The Cincinnati Review, New Ohio Review, and Verse Daily, among others. You can follow him on Twitter, @amicob, or visit him at www.brandonamico.com.