Florence, Kentucky

Adam Scheffler
So what if the old man
on the bus is trying and                              	
failing to remember his dead
mom’s face, as if the past were
not a cartoon tunnel scratched
on a wall?                            	 
 
He’s still trying,
and when did we forget our
cattle-shoes and feather-parkas,
how we carry with us a lowing
sadness, an extinguished memory
of flight?
 
Today I’m going to count all the                	
blackbirds between the prison
and the Walmart where, right
now, in its galloping sadness
a bald man who sounds like
a car horn is hector-lecturing
his infant-hushing                           	
girlfriend—as her unhappiness,
radiant as a cleat, sharp as an ice
skate, sprays to a sudden stop.
 
Right now, at the emergency
crisis center right next to the                       	
gun store, the nurse feels entombed
in hours like a fly in amber
as the waiting room TVs
spin despair’s golden honey—
 
and I think of the ice I waded out
on as a kid, of how often the world
seems like it’s going to shatter,
but then, miraculously,
mercilessly, does not.

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Failure

I’m standing at the stove cooking pancakes
when in walks a goat.
The goat is black and white and gives me
a look over the bridge of his nose that I recognize
as a look of sadness.
And so I have a sad goat in my kitchen.
The tornado sirens have stopped.
He’s countertop height.
The cast on my arm under the sleeve
of my sweater isn’t visible to the goat, and I’m
glad for that. I flip the pancakes.
The goat shakes gently his beard, kicks
his left hoof, and stomps. I try to imagine
anything as smooth as a flipped pancake
as I wait for the other side to brown.