When I was a kid, my sister helped me button my shirts.
We’d stand in front of a full-length mirror and I’d try to figure it out.
Try to figure out mirror images. That’s really what she was teaching me. To look at myself.
“What you see in the mirror is kinda the reverse of what actually is,” she’d tell me.
This is how I learned about reversals.
Something simple as a button pushed through a slit in a shirt in nineteen-eighty-something.
In the 90s
she was grown with a family of her own.
I was learning to drive. Learning to back out of a drive way.
Pay attention in the rearview mirror.
Look out for people behind you.
2001. We seemed backwards. Not just reverse, but backwards too.
There’s a slight difference, right?
People leaving work in the morning, not in the evening.
That’s just backwards.
Yesterday I was looking for a poem in my iPhone when I dropped it
and the screen cracked.
How important little gadgets can be,
Lives documented and squeezed into
a pocket on our person. Everything as it was
In our pocket.
On our person. Interactions between us, but no
Just loneliness. We fix our iPhones before we fix ourselves.
Last night, a noise woke me.
I saw a finger poking out from inside the crack in my iPhone.
I saw eyes. I saw him crawl out.
Dressed in a suit, he told me his name: America.
He said, “I’m the reverse of everything you ever knew.”
He took a phone out of his fancy shirt and gave it to me.
He said, “This is how America is now.”
He crawled out the window, said “Look out for people behind you.”
When I finally fell asleep again, I dreamed of Poets and Artists and Jazzy hipsters.
They weren’t behind me,
but beside me.
It slices cross-wise
From where I sit
joints speak their peace for painkillers called clouds
has aesthetic consequences, like when I document a poem of lies
and call it
We speak of a poem forgotten inside us
We thought we saw a star cutting the sky
In other words a scar
It rhymed and gave us memory
Something will come of it
Floor (Everything Falls)
One clock remains)
Tile floor black and white squares
swept up by skinny student with cap on backwards,
braces, khaki pants and Doc Martins with peace symbol painted at the toe
Swept and tossed out the door
where an honest homeless man walks in. Old and fat
A sign dangling over his backside
(all your money goes to my higher education)
and empty bottles to exchange for coffee and a piece of
“That one,” he says
A smudge left on the glass display case
because life’s too good to go without cheesecake of any sort
at any time
No matter what’s fallen or where the floor’s blown off to
(One clock remains
David Welper is a Pushcart nominee with an MA from Wayne State University in Detroit. His book, Lookbaby, is available on his site. His poems appear in sPARKLE & bLINK, Oakland Review, Denver Poetry Map, and other publications. He’s been a featured reader in NYC, Detroit, Denver and the Bay Area. He has been an editor, a curator, a volunteer, and an intern at various arts organizations across the US. He occasionally writes book reviews and recently founded the lit zine, Buddy, BuddyLitZine.com, which publishes creative writing about mental health issues big and small. He works as a psychiatric nurse in the Bay Area. More: DavidWelper.com.
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