A small German boy splashes in
puddles of radioactive measured
calmness. The puddles are not,
in fact, radioactive or measured.
But these adjectives seem the most
appropriate signifiers in depicting the
species of calmness the German boy
feels while splashing after waking
too early from a troubled dream
starring clowns without eyes or mouths
but only brilliant red noses much larger
than their faces. The German boy,
too shaken by the deformed clowns
to fall back asleep, laces his Adidas
sneakers in the pink light of dawn.
He is careful not to wake his mother
who is tired, who must produce capital
to purchase the tools of survival, who must
answer questions for ten consecutive hours
at a call center in order to procure this said
capital, angry questions about failing
computers, with a headset strapped into
her left ear like a feeding cockroach.
The German boy wants his mother to sleep.
He shuts the door of their apartment quietly.
He walks down the concrete stairs quietly.
He dips the toe of his right shoe quietly
into a puddle in the parking lot. The puddle
reflects the light that is becoming more
lavender than pink, though naming these
colors does little to characterize the thrill
their changing in the puddle gives the
German boy, a feeling similar to the initial
strangeness of saying familiar prayers in
a foreign language. The German boy taps his
sneaker in the puddle. He watches it ripple.
The German boy who is, technically,
half-Croatian half‐Turkish, at least for as
long as nationalism and ethnicity remain
the primary means of classification, which will
be, of course, until humans stop existing, just
as God is, technically, everyone and no one,
at least until the Universe collapses—the
German boy hops into the puddle with both feet.
There’s a Hole in John’s Gut
The wind rushes through it.
A wet leaf clings to its edge
then rises like a balloon
seeking solitude. Life is too
long, John thinks. I hear
John’s thought. John tells me to
stop reading his mind. He says
You’re so invasive sometimes.
I tell John about the fear I
have that I will always be
useless. He says You and
everyone. Inside his head
an old woman kisses a tree
trunk. The tree says I can’t
kiss you back. I think about
the nature of my fears. I
stick my head inside John’s
hole. I study the words carved
into in its circumference: I’d
rather be liked than be happy.
I text my wife I LOVE MY BOO
GOO. Inside John’s head the tree
is laughing. The old woman
punches its trunk. Her knuckles
are raw. A squirrel sits inside
John and watches the sunset
outside him. John asks me if I
want a Diet Coke. Inside John’s
head the old woman keeps punching
the tree until her hands are
covered in autumn colors.
Vincent Poturica‘s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in New England Review, DIAGRAM, Birkensnake, New Ohio Review, and other journals. He lives with his wife and daughter in Ukiah, CA, where he teaches at Mendocino College. Sometimes he tweets @vpoturica