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Poetry by Ryan Van Winkle

Forget Has Been Falling (I Cannot Remember a Single Breakfast)

After the Pig


Our Dysfunctions

Salad Days

Forget Has Been Falling (I Cannot Remember a Single Breakfast)

All the problems become snow:
it is not the drinking or the distance anymore,
it is the snow.

Forget has been falling for months,
gets plowed to the side of the road,
has enveloped the short christmas days;
her long nipples have been sheathed by it,
the pond is useless
layered with this froth.

The snow has hidden the solutions,
the consequences, the map,
and it is dark and it settles, white,
on the ground, blows thin
onto the porch where she

would sit for the sun.


After the Pig

I noticed the color of her eyes changing
when the landlord tossed a pig’s carcass onto the tall blades in the backyard
for his dogs to gnaw on.

He said he’d clean it up
before it started to stink.

Dogs have to eat, I told her, anyway
we aren’t paying much rent for being
so close to the beach.

A few days after the pig
we walked the half mile down
to see the water.

After drawing Picasso’s women in the sand
we burst polyps of seaweed
that stuck to the costal rock.

I knew the secrets of those rocks,
have seen the waves wear them for years.

I knew I could pull a mussel from the rock,
crack it with a stone, and with a cloths pin and some string I could send it down,
like a miner, into the dark pitted pools between the breakers.

As a kid I would wait for a crab to pinch the bait.
Tender, I would glide up the hungry, crusted shell
at the end of my line.

It would go in the bucket and wait as I trapped piles,
their claws and sharp legs scratching the side of the pail, like boys
trying to scrabble up a tree without low hanging branches.

They fetched a penny a piece from the fish lady on route 11.
I promised to take her there to buy fresh tuna for the grill.
She was okay, finally.

Her hair hung flat against her head, making her look younger
than she was. And again she was smiling.

She was giggling, bursting
seaweed with her toes, sometimes her teeth, squealing
with the squirts and squelches of the stuff.

Back on the sand, our friends played Frisbee.
I was glad her mood had moved with the water.

Our friends seemed happy with the effortless tossing
but I did not want to play with them.
I had other things on my mind.

She went to join them in the game. I watched a while;
she looked safe, unsinkable.

I thought I could go for a walk down the beach
by myself. As I remembered, it was a mile
to the lighthouse.

The sun was not too strong and I knew she would
still be there when I got back and sometimes
that’s enough to make you want to go away for a while.

So I walked and thought about the sea some and then
it got dark and I walked back to where she
wasn’t anymore.

The air was cooler and my skin felt tight and tingling from all the sun and salt.
The streetlights had not gone on yet, the houses on the street were all gray.

I was on a delicate string
being brought up to air.

At our place the dogs were in back
pawing at the dirt. In the dusk
I could see no bones.

There were no lights on in the house
and through the screen door

all I could see was a darkness.



The lights go out
in the rest of the house.

Mom snores
on the couch.

I’ve never noticed her snore.

And I don’t want to be annoyed by it.
But somehow
I am.

And I want to buy her flowers
to make up
for being annoyed
even though she’s asleep.

I want to buy her flowers

because she waddles now. This is new.
It takes her longer to cross in front
of the TV screen and
the old man’s tongue is a switch; slaps her quick.

My mother is snoring
and a girl calls me.
An ex girl. A recent one.
And this reminds me of how girls,
how women,
come and go.

This woman put fingers in my ass and she
let me.

And we thought this was love and we tried
to keep it while I was distant.

And I want to buy her flowers
because she calls to care and
because there is a new girl
and the woman who rings
does not know about her.

My mother wakes up and I
burden her with no truth,
no flowers. She is tired
because she went to work, did the taxes,
cooked and cleaned while I
hid all day in my high school room

like there was not a snoring world, like
decades aren’t murderers, like flowers
could make people live

and love forever.


Our Dysfunctions

I first saw her naked when we were ten, playing
in Alice’s garden. I remember the shrill of Alice’s mum
telling the girls they ought to know better.

I was a boy.

Red, they put their clothes back on, dusk’s quiet coming.
Soon they were summoned indoors; pink roast steaming on the table, and
the flowers outside shortly catching frost,

the air cool on my cheeks.


Salad Days

And driving today,
after all that stuttering time,
your hand was scratching
at the faint slug of a scar.

A long time ago,
reaching for a banana,
I fell off a stool,
cutting my knee, bleeding a lot.

The terracotta man suggested
wrapping it in a chopped cabbage.

But you, because we were good then,
then said nothing, just
cleaned it, dressed it, made it okay.

And driving today,
the rain falling like diamonds,
the weather was too poor for us.
We could not change direction,
go to the place we
used to go when we
were drunk and just wanted to drive.

We passed the turnoff, like it was never there, your moist

hand awakening my knee.

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