Early April Subway


Again room fills up like leaf gutters
With attractive grouplets of the stubbornly
Coy and then everyone waits together
Like the pleasing skinny S-shaped
Trees that fill my enemy’s back yard,
A place of wet thoughts where forsythia
Is asked, cruelly, to be the weather
It foretells, but changes nothing:

It’s simply not the kind of yard
To turn an ordinary woman
Into the advancing giant, plunging
An arm into the lawn
And pulling out a bloody root. 

Oh, parsley-flavored attitude! Comfortable
Shirt-tail atmosphere! Nice windiness!
Rare as a smart magazine and better
Than that and church coffee:

The room pulls away and I’m standing.
I’m standing and the room greets
The audience. I’m standing and newspapers
Open like folded pigeons, but I’m
Listening and I’m standing and my favorite
Citizens listen and I listen when I sit down
When the room fills with angry hip-hop,
When I’m happy as a screen door closing.

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Justin Jamail, "Early April Subway" was published in Forklift, Ohio, Issue # 22. Copyright © 2017 by Justin Jamail. Reprinted by permission of Hanging Loose Press. Source: Exchangeable Bonds (Hanging Loose Press, 2018), page 9.