Author Archives: bpmcgackin

Beach Umbrella

It isn’t so much depression as—no,
but maybe it is. It’s not always doom
and gloom; it can also be laziness,
lack of desire, an extinguished heart fire,
a general dimming of the world and
all of the once flaring lights within it.
Not so much an emptiness as a blank
space where nothing can come to rest, a hole
with no edges or depth, only itself.
Like when I bring a book to the beach to
read, excited because it’s engrossing,
maybe summer themed, but when I turn
my eyes away, the brightness blinds me for
a moment, and the pages all look black.

Lifeboat

You are my non-inflatable life vest,
whistle and saltwater-activated
emergency light strapped to my bare chest.
You are my signal flare, my only hope
if I’m ever lost in the blue nowhere.
You are my emergency exit, left
unlocked at all times but never to be
utilized for my daily entrances.
You are my smoke detector, inspected
every few months to make sure you’re not
dead, but left alone for fear of your noise.
You are my spare tire, my AAA card,
my life insurance plan, my second, and
sorry, but I hope I’ll never need you.

Bingo Card

What’re poems if not a bingo card,
the right words punched out or daubed with colored
markers to win a certain sensation?
Because the lines are like money, like cash
prizes, meaningless except for what we
can do with them, how we ultimately
feel as a result of their slow aging,
this violent anticipation, for
only when we feel nothing, when numbers
never come up, when we aren’t even
in the game, is there frustration. A thrill
comes from being one ball away, almost
understanding the words perfectly, that
nearness often better than successes.

Jet Ski

It must be thrilling to not be afraid
of the sea, or else it’s nothing, like how
I’m not afraid of beach blankets, buckets,
all the stuff of the sand safely on land.
My deck doesn’t pitch and sway with the waves
except during occasional earthquakes,
when the dirt turns to water and the hills
are like high tides crumbling into the surf,
crashing down into the valley with their
white crest houses and sport utility
vehicles. Does the moon pull at the earth
as well? I’ve seen the wind kick up dust, snow,
but never make the Great Plains truly move.
If only I could swim the earth and sky.

Gangplank

In the beginning, there was God, and He
was a big pervert or something, telling
Adam to walk around naked while He
watched from His God perch. And when that wasn’t
enough for him to get His rocks off on
anymore, He turned Adam into a
girl and watched while she walked around naked,
and it wasn’t until they caught the creep,
when they had their mouths around his apples,
that they understood that maybe what He
was doing was not okay, and they made
like a banana and split, and God got
so angry that He gave us Internet
and cruise ships and other mild distractions.

Forecast

I do not love you, but the cold, grainy
projection of your perfect future tense.
This is me admitting you will be loved
in one of my infinite possible
outcomes. We brushed hands over the lettuce
and I waited for—nope, didn’t work. And
I made a witty remark and then asked
you if—nope, didn’t work. And then I backed
off, but you struck up a conversation
in the frozen foods aisle and I flirted—
nope, didn’t work. And I pretended not
to be interested, and you asked me out,
and I—nope, didn’t work. And my girlfriend
never—nope, didn’t work. And it lasted—

Sterno

My heart has the capacity to heat
a cold breast peppered and lightly dressed with
lemon or some other favorite mess.
The words don’t come as easily as
eating. I’m often regurgitating
like a mother bird, closing my eyes and
turning away, never knowing if my
baby is swallowing all I have to
say. Where did this nest metaphor come from?
I thought I was talking about feeding
the masses at barbecues, communion
parties, corporate soirees, metal trays
holding my thoughts, keeping them warm over
a thin layer of near-boiling water.