Vlastimil Koutecký CC
Poems Written in First Ten Days of Sobriety
Melancholic as bees filling a Crown Vic
or a headlamp in ashes inside the cave while
feeling for air, I become the breezeway
of past attempts to stop harvesting liquid,
a Penelope of sorts, agog and cramped,
as I adjust to a new regimen of saltines
and despairing downticks on the scale
of absent suitors in myth. What once was
written in sinew now weights heavy on
blunt variations. My liver unfizzes,
my kidneys relax, blood pressure moves
the direction of fish. What I once was—
another creature. What I will be—an upsurge.
Unsure, I become options optional, imparting.
5am, they injected the vaccine at a Walmart
on the edge of a North Florida wilderness of
gothic plastic assemblages while the wine
glasses arrived broken in their Amazon box
too big like a child who wears pants that fall
from his waist revealing how flimsy the body.
In ethanol and ferment, the pomegranates
of our spiked hellscape sit quietly in their breeding
turning my throat glassy: I’ve got hummingbird lungs.
Green bottles thrown to goddesses and kings’
pudgy fingers clasp flukes and goblets, formulating
decrees: You will never drink again. All things stew given
enough time: cherry, elderberry, currant, me, you,
brooding, lust. Lifting my arm above nothing was torture.
Half-baked lies permeate my existence: I can
quit anytime, I won’t die on my own watch, silly
epiphanies mocking themselves ad infinitum. Sisyphus
hurled his gramophone across existence calling it
a rock, then the rock was abstracted to a fate rolling
towards hegemonic distractions like Google and socials.
Cosmology is the next best thing. Curious how time
dwarfs even the most disastrous of human cacophonies
like Greta Thunberg offering snark to the Twittersphere
of trolls, domestic terrorists, and recipes for scones.
After work, I twist like a rag in a bucket of rumination.
If I pass the supermarket, will the debit card cleave
from my bleached justifications? Will I graze the wine
aisle with my scarred knuckles in animal magnetism?
Will I drive my car into the ditch’s creamy twilight
or resist my own twitching impulses like carbonite?
Amphetamines make me orgasm super awesome.
Like a video game to avoid the past.
I wanted to burn down the treatment facility.
As a way to unhinge the label from spirit.
I couldn’t sleep because I would relive an incident
involving my then two-year-old son.
Like a script memorized to avoid the past.
Because the world is so dull and tedious.
The brain feels sandblasted and raw as dunes.
It’s perfectly rational if you heavily discount
the value of the future.
As a way peel off the label from spirit.
Fun fact: pleasure is a reason to do things : ) : ) : )
Bare as brain, sad as dunes.
To feel bummed like this,
an avalanche of coordinates
on the body’s temple translates
into kissing sharks and parasites,
for the long haul it’s been a week
with no substances except a man telling
me that I should inhale and exhale agog.
I watch the crescent moon, say “I do”
to the world but don’t mean it
because inside I’m dying of fear
and wine is sloshing like rivers of
fuming days, days diluted, moon
reappearing after thirty nights
and calling itself eyes.
Water is cold and wet,
wine—hot and dry like
a lake on fire turns purple
as pines smoke.
the story of a man
who slept on his back
in a tent as serpent
entered his open
mouth and he bit down.
Finished with saturation.
Done with the dish of spreading
colors and clicking. I could Google
myself twelve times daily only
to find I have not left the house,
that I’m really tending
to my scraped knee.
Fell again. Nothing changed.
I don’t want to know the things
I think I want to know, don’t want
to drink things, I think I want to drink.
Besieged by blight and loneliness
deep in the body’s cavities. Behind
the eyeballs weeds grow
and parting the weeds, the murky
pond gravitates to static when it should
be stiller than hands that hold
deadened plants at noon.
The spheres demanded
I didn’t cry. On the pavement,
I thought about it while
pain shot through
my arms and ankles.
The spheres are cruel.
The man across the street
who saw me fall helped
his wife into a purple car.
Hey, that’s my car!
I got up, blood gushing
down my shin. Kept
running, lush plants
exhaled, hand numb
by now—only 8am.
What else did Tuesday
have in store?
Sandra Simonds is the award-winning author of eight books of poetry: Triptychs (Wave Books, November 2022), Atopia (Wesleyan University Press, 2019), Orlando, (Wave Books, 2018), Further Problems with Pleasure, winner of the 2015 Akron Poetry Prize from the University of Akron Press, Steal It Back (Saturnalia Books, 2015), The Sonnets (Bloof Books, 2014), Mother Was a Tragic Girl (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2012), and Warsaw Bikini (Bloof Books, 2009). Her poems and criticism have been published in the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Best American Poetry, Poetry, the American Poetry Review, the Chicago Review, Granta, Boston Review, Ploughshares, Fence, Court Green, and Lana Turner. She is the recipient of the Readers’ Choice Award for her sonnet “Red Wand,” which was published on Poets.org, the Academy of American Poets website. She went to UCLA for her BA, University of Montana for her MFA and Florida State for her PhD. She lives in Tallahassee, Florida and is an Associate professor of English and Humanities at Thomas University in Thomasville, Georgia.
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