Poetry Issue 24


Eileen R. Tabios

I Was A Teen, Backpacking

At fairs, loud carnies overpower reason—Memories
tinged by the stench of spilled wine—Bare arms
defines “summer browned”—Feeling farther away

than the moon over Ferris wheel—A town where all
women are supple—Summer clarified by sitting on
an ancient street’s stone embankment: suddenly heat

rushed out of the evening! In a basement, hollowed
men collect water dripping from corroded holes—
Dank air around a boy, belt wrapped around one arm,

heating a spoon—Remains of people on the remains
of mattresses—Strolling outside to hear trees murmur—
Seeing sky as the sea and sea as the sky—Sighting

a bloodied face through a cracked windshield, but
moving on—A bald man cooked horsemeat in blood,
wine and garlic while lecturing on techniques for

making plastique—Lit candles without saying Grace—
Rain becoming thick—Huge buckteeth her lover used
to open bottles—Enchanting glow emanating from

a thief’s eyes—So many hot and dusty evenings
at train stations—Long lines of refugee workers in cheap
suits attached to small bundles—Laughter of weary

women as they shared a wicker-covered bottle—
Time slowed into a taut agony—Dirty river glittering
underneath the false life I created with no intention—

Intention is a form of focus, at times control—Days
when I wished for just a bit of what others call Heaven
Sleeping on a traffic island on a highway near

that anonymous city whose name bore two hyphens—
Musk of a stolen wool coat—World going up in smoke
and coming down as snow—Limp laundry line, almost

invisible in the grey air—Brown and yellow grass
trapped in mud without evoking a precious stone like
amber—A detective looking at me with encyclopedias

as eyes—His cheekbones so high they were like horizons—
Wanting to see sky above her cheekbones instead of
a mirror reflecting the killer inside me—October mornings

with light of gold and blue so stark they resuscitated anyone—
Injected air bubbles—
Desultory sway of curtains—