Haunted Passages: Two Poems by Matt Wedlock


She goes to the laptop on her bed and clicks away with the mouse. It turns white, then cherry cola
red, then tells herself she needs to update the template.

They read for a while, laugh at the link to Waheeda Rehman’s interview in 1996. In the corner
there’s another tool the techies might send her: small controversies worth trading in for her
creative liberties. Then they sit on the floor, in easy chair, then ottoman. Tired. Free. Breathing. An
urge surfaces—windless. A whim, really.

You’re someone who doesn’t dream. That doesn’t want to run on the sandy sand of a silver city,
painted red and strewn streets of vampire teeth and sweetmeat blood. Somewhere, you think, are
twins who have traveled from the moon in a vacuum of water and every salted thought of the
afterlife. Where fear is given importance in a belly of stone.

Cash Out

Little circles glow between greens & pastel sunflowers. Feed bags bulge and spill their contents
across our arms, around the backpacks leaning loosely against my bedpost, into our pockets. We
stifle our noses, are fed bacon grease from cooktops passed down through generations of a desert
family huddled by a cooker stand, thin rays of moonlight seep through as our grandmother times
an onion boiling tender to hit at exactly 12 minutes. She whispers: I just know.

from the past we’ll prepare a hunger
that something will guide us through emptiness, a craving
for something, as though the watch, never quite there or ever ready, could be convinced to time
the numbers wrong and reveal that we haven’t moved on yet—
because there’s an obsession lurking, maybe of a thing yellow or pink. Because we didn’t
bury it properly, it’s somewhere to be found, out there, or in my chest—
or some corner or within a stack of objects with sentimental value
all we keep
you say, matters.
but I don’t believe that

I guess we owe our parents that much after whatever tragedy held their souls between bills and
dinner and waking just to

Look you say
If no element is there
it’s a haunting—
look around the dining room table.
They too must have long ago shared some laughter
that was not bitter with wine

Some of those who waited were jumpy about light pollution between partners. Others viewed the
smaller bodies of lights as conspicuous and threatening. We could walk, clutch memory, out across
the woods, towards subdivisions, and at night we’d see no light except our own. Even when our
bodies turned away, we pushed back tears, their partners would slow down and warn them, make
a gentle steering movement with one hand, distracting and occasionally soothing, or we, too,
would turn our headlights on and suddenly be blinded by window after window, four, maybe six
feet across, taking place in darkness we were convinced was invisible, a shining.

Or rather, lights that we had put there, shining not from brightness but from proximity, reflections
across a screen at us, warning us of our nearness, mocking us in some way.
Can’t see you.
That mocking undertone all velvet sponge.
Inattentive, you.
Next house, and it has survived as darkness and, nonetheless, has not turned to drive a stalk of
grass through our or its heart.

You must know where you are to see this place, from this height, or from this angle, but you have
seen enough. You have had enough, you understand. Sort of.

A luminescent bird-catcher tangles with the branches overhead. Light zigzags and loops. It’s
something old, stable: the throat of an owl. You were nothing until now, but you are as nothing in
now and in nowness and not needing the owl’s hoot which beckons you. Instead you burn the song
and the throat and the lungs and even the air that made this all possible.

At your feet are two pies and it’s understood that you’ll get to your knees. Their soggy shape
reveals lack of interest, the pies are what appear to be an otherwise fruitless effort at food.
Perhaps a bear leans down: the words are bemused and lovely grunts and not at all related to
violence. If you still don’t like the beast’s gaping maw, and she still butters you, and bathes your
face in the now falling snow with a kiss that might as well kill you. Then you might just be ready.

The window opens up while everything is painted blue around it. This sets the scene for what you
come to expect of the house.

you dreamscape a death birth—

congratulate yourself
on acting like a real grownup.

the long face of the mantis looks no different from
your boredom.
It is gorgeous, as human beings are grotesque. Look
down at
your fingertips as you contemplate the wrinkling skin of
your third and fourth fingers. Consider
the vein that runs
through your skull, just as it is about to burst with pulsing.

this love handles you. And later you test your pulse under the dinner table.
your perspiration—
the dark whisper of your urine stream in the thick air between
you and the mud
you’re wriggling
as you try to crawl out of
your neighbor’s garden.

Wash your face. Take a little red lipstick that must be almost full off the floor and clean it with the
water at the sink. Scoop some of this red planet debris into the burgundy tray by the sink. Put a
drop of your favorite perfume on it.

Forget it, let it be accidental.

Matt Wedlock is father to Shae River, partner to Kristen Wedlock, adjunct professor, grocery store clerk, and is a graduate of Naropa’s Jack Kerouac School of (Dis)embodied Poetics 2012.

Image: orientaltrading.com

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