Baltimore native Jeffrey Park currently lives in Goettingen, Germany, where he teaches General English and Scientific English at the Georg-August-Univeritaet. Links to all of his published work can be found at http://www.scribbles-and-dribbles.com. He has been previously featured in In Parentheses.
BITS & PIECES
They haunt me in absentia:
wisdom teeth, appendix, tonsils,
plantar warts, foreskin, boils,
blackheads and sties,
scabs, callouses, bunions, snot.
Thinking of all the bits
that have been taken from me,
I sometimes wonder
just how much of my soul
I have left.
It frays my nerves, makes me
chew my finger nails –
though now at least I make sure
to swallow the parings
and keep myself to myself.
and cicadas swarm
in the acacia trees
shredding the air
Most are harmless
but a few,
pierce body and soul,
staining the evening
shade of red.
You are no comet or asteroid
in an wildly eccentric orbit,
you never cracked the brittle surface of a moon
or caused a mass extinction,
have yet to blow out a single window with
the violence of your passage.
And yet, despite your inability to herald
strange portents, as you move through the darkness
I can just make out the faint glow
of your plasma tail, volatile molecules
burning themselves away
as you plunge down into bed.
The clouds roll in gunmetal gray
like they always do, threatening
a downpour or a split lip.
Brings back childhood memories.
A runner passes, hawks and spits
right, left, right again.
She spits out
an angry thank you
rocking the doorman back on his heels.
I shake my head to break this
crazy train of thought, but it’s already
too late to save anyone.
A trench-coated figure bursts
through the door, gloves spitting lead
like hot summer rain.
LIGHTER THAN AIR
People always laughed, understandably
enough, at the sight of his body –
roughly spherical, banded, following its own
odd elliptical course
through city parks and parking lots,
along boulevards and thoroughfares.
There was no explaining the funny fat man
and the way he swooped and spun
and bobbed along without regard to either
local gravity or basic propriety.
Mr. Helium, the wittier onlookers called him,
or Balloon Man, or Zero G.
Oh, they thought it was all so funny,
but he always had the last laugh
as he drifted slowly away, leaving a trail
of crushed and broken bodies behind –
sobering reminder of the crucial difference
between weight and mass.