Jay Sizemore: Poetry: August 2021


Southern Legitimacy? I was born and raised in Kentucky, which is south of Ohio, though a bit north of Tennessee. I think I have more southern cred than J.D. Vance, since I spent more than a few summers with my mamaw.

A writer dreams of America

~after Jack Kerouac

A dust cloud hangs
over the American West
like a benzedrine dream,
pornographic pictures and
power lines, a madness
that burns phosphorescent
plume and fume,
yellow as the noon.

The mad gather
like clotting blood,
like spiders made of stars,
glowing neon filament fibers
stringing web between the dark
and the moon, drawing gazes,
dropped drooling jaws.
This is what we want.

The specter of Karl Marx
in the wings
of a flaming magpie.
The dueling desire
of a typewriter and a parachute,
a speeding bit of shrapnel
tearing through the spleen,
the American Dream
gone miniature
as a rocking chair
viewed through a telescope
held backwards to the eye.

This is the writing life,
the romanticized road
stretching from ink to page
and lip to stage,
a kind of ubiquitous rage
that releases itself like rain.
We’re all hitchhikers or bums,
traversing the wild country
in the back seats
of jalopies, dinosaurs knitted together
from strange bloody rust,
and the views from these windows
are what memories are made of.

In Anytown, Anywhere
the rivers run raw and fragrant,
a murmuration of wet
rippling against the quiet
subconscious of the mind,
that mildew scent
of wet earth and birds,
where experience bends
to meet expectation
like a wet kiss
on the forehead.

I find myself here so often,
searching for my identity
amid so many names
scrawled messily on the wall
of some flop house
or abandoned railroad car,
and I feel just as lost
as a journalist’s hat
blown beneath the bleachers
of a retired baseball stadium
where yesterday missed its handshake
with the normalcy of today,
and my mouth waters
for the familiarity
of apple pie and ice cream.

I miss that spirit,
the spirit of the West
slouching like a cowboy
on a bar stool
sipping his beer,
this mud dappled stranger
with carnivals for eyes
and a smile whiskey warm,
asking if anyone needs a ride,
because there’s always
some ghost worth chasing
out past the pines
and the hills and the night,
where such kindness
feels welcome as a puppy
licking the salt
from the palm of your hand,

these visions are vanishing
like flickering phantoms of light
after all the eyelids
have closed their carnivals down,
there will be another huckster
in another huckster town,
saying step right up,
step right up and try your luck
guessing the weight
of a million empty years.