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Poetry: Just Buffalo's 5th Annual Member's Writing Contest Winners
Lost in Space
When we were boys we fought like dogs,
our palms pressing the glass door between us
until it shattered, slicing flesh.
Even now my wrist is marked
by a raised pattern of old stitches,
a warning in Braille I can no longer read.
In second grade, you sat in the back of the bus,
bouncing with every pothole,
singing out lines from that old TV show
about a family with a robot, lost in space.
“Danger, Will Robinson.”
In your private corner of the basement
you read Popular Electronics
and fixed old radios, the vacuum tubes
glowing like cigarettes in the dim light,
but you refused to read
their stupid books about Dick and Jane
and they bussed you even further
to a school for children who did not fit,
the ones some of us called “retards.”
The seedlings we planted that summer
are full-grown pines, but we moved away,
and for years you’ve said nothing to me
beyond an awkward “hello.”
I do not know when the seizures began,
but I have seen you drop to the floor
like a puppet whose strings were cut.
At 48, you lost your job pushing dust
across the floor of an antique shop,
and at 51 you slept in a jail cell for months
after you threatened to drive your rusting van
through the vestibule of a church,
an echo of glass shattering again.
When I think of you now
I remember that day at the lake
when you were young.
You slipped on the dock
and scraped your shins raw,
and there you were,
swimming trunks clinging to wet legs,
your thin chest bare in the hot sun
and a galvanized pipe in your hand,
beating the wooden planks
with every bit of your strength,
blow after blow,
as if you were
a blacksmith hammering,
trying to reshape the world
into a place
Tonight the city harbor is still
And there is no me and you.
Time stretches out from sun to sun
Air stretches out from breath to breath
The lanterns: half honey, half bees,
Are yellows flooding the night.
Neither you nor day will come.
Your memory is a body of stone
Your skin is a landscape of distance
And to have once held you
Is to understand the concern of land
In search of a missing bridge.
I would have the moon arch over us
And darkness flow under you
I would have a rose break its chains
And the birds captive in silence
I would have the voiceless hours speak
for me. When I think of you
Light shifts and drifts apart
Dying wherever forever mourns.
This isn’t death, just the blackness of always.
Tonight I write for a moment of dark limits
Beneath an artless sky without name.
—Bryan P. Roland
Issue Navigation> Issue Index > v12n7 (Week of Thursday, February 14) > Lit City > Poetry: Just Buffalo's 5th Annual Member's Writing Contest Winners
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