Poetry by LB Sedlacek
Learner’s Permits Given to Cows on Valentine’s Day
I was stopped by a cow going down the highway.
My Dad tried to run over it.
The cow was twenty feet high and sixty feet long.
It stopped traffic for a while.
We had just eaten at the Chinese buffet.
All you can eat for $4.99.
They charge $2 for drinks, even tea.
So we only left a dollar as a tip.
It was Valentine’s Day.
I was the only one in my office who got flowers.
It made all the girls jealous.
I sent them to myself.
After my Dad took me to lunch, I was thirsty the rest of the day.
I guess it was the M.S.G.
I bought myself a box of heart-shaped chocolates.
It was empty by the end of the day.
I left my thumbprints in each piece of candy.
There were six different colors of nugget inside.
All the candy went into the trash.
I don’t eat chocolate at all.
Most Wanted Appendix
The appendix is unnecessary
And shouldn’t be there
At all, that’s the theory
In the medical books
That useless mass inside the body
On par with packing peanuts,
Giant sheets of cardboard and plastic.
Trucks filled with packages heading to final destinations.
Some drivers are out well into the night.
Making up for bad directions, missed deadlines.
Electronic signatures kept on file in case of emergencies.
First in Flight
An old friend in a parachute can
look out of sorts much like a head
shoved up against a wooden figure
with a curved spot or a hole for
your face. I have a picture like
that of my friend and the parachute.
I have a picture like that of myself
in a spacesuit, and we are dated
by our smiles and our glasses.
Without a museum guide, a
parachute instructor, Orville
and Wilbur surfed the dunes
of Nags Head in North Cack-a-lack-a
as my brother-in-law says ’cause
he doesn’t like saying ‘Carolina.’
They lived in a one-room shack
with spoons of iron and forks of
light carving blueprints in the
wind, in the odor of the ocean.
Without the arms of seagulls,
without the legs of sea oats
there would be nothing for the
N.C. first graders to study, or maybe
it’s in the second grade. It’s hard to
remember because for me it’s
always existed even before my
brother dragged me to all the counters
in every airport and made me lug
around flight schedules for every airline
in my little pink plastic carry on bag.
Leaving on your lights can be a
neat trick to keep your face
above water, your knees on
dry land. Staying on the
trail is a risky move when
seeking vintage dew,
postcards from nowhere.
Two fists are all that
stands ’tween you and
that 4-cent check
crumpled beneath plump
fingers, heavy in
melted hands. It is
payable to no one
’cause we don’t have
one of our own.
The Scent of Sleep
A symphony sweet
Mozart began to compose.
Instead, it became about death. Requiem.
And it’s deep dark chords
Like Pavarotti’s when he sang at
The Met or when a train
Passes through a tunnel,
Or crosses a bridge
And sends out a warning. Usually
They go unheeded. Sometimes
There are no second chances.
Sometimes the musician has to play
Onstage, even if the notes are wrong.
Still the compositions stir
The mind, the lungs. Memory
Plays tricks on dreams interrupted
In the REM stage, once it’s left
There’s no returning until the stage
Of rest settles in—eyes closed,
Limbs still, heartbeat calm.
But the ears are the traitors
When hearing once lost
Becomes the last sense to go.
Copyright © 2004 LB Sedlacek.