“I Am Back to What I Know. It Frightens Me” by Matthew Chylak

I haven’t learned to write poems
where the basketball leaves my hand, flies through the air
and spontaneously combusts.

I mine experience, mine
or someone else’s, using cheap
red wine as a refrain.

I pour the café a cappella group
into my crock with a bonsai tree
and a few cups of milk. I stir until thickened.

I keep lists of poem ideas: God
as a giant squid, rewriting fortune cookies,
taking the train on a sunny day.

I pour sugar on everything,
twist my baseball cap sideways, verb the noun
to hide the fact that I’ve written poems

where

I smoke in the kitchen
so the sensor will go off and someone
somewhere will think I’ve found fire

where

I forget the key to my apartment building
and desperately tell any girl who lets me inside
how much I love her

where

I purposefully defy the rules
I have set for myself. But you expected that, didn’t you?

I want to drink cheap red wine and
die sometimes, tell my friends I love them
and the times have been good.

I suppose there’s nothing wrong
with that, if poetry is a reflection of life
and life is all a summation. But still,

I can’t get myself to pull down the Christmas lights
in my bedroom. I’ll wait for a bulb
to blow instead, so the circuit breaks all at once.

Published in Penn Review Volume 46, Issue 1

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