What can a man swallow --
a childhood, suds in mouth;
daily bitters; an uncle who said,
kneel, oh, such a good boy;
two dozen Olympic pools
filled with whisky; three teeth;
flies in dumpsters;
pride; the recruiter lies;
bile and blood from combat;
pain; a flood of painkillers;
nightmares, one child with no face;
stares from strangers.
What can swallow a man --
inaccessible doors suddenly opening;
a haunting encounter; French kisses
that saunter; curves flushed
from a bath; hush after wedding bells;
office politics, two hellish promotions;
impending fatherhood; inconceivable
miscarriages; an affair; a deserved
desertion; ALS; rare resignation, signing
a last will and testament.
Man, a swallow can shock
even the ceiling as a bullet shatters
what had calmed beneath --
a hit and miss life; one throbbing
scar; the target of tears; all
This poem was written as part of the 20 Poem Challenge.
Cyndi MacMillan poetry has recently appeared in Grain Magazine and the Fieldstone Review. Her verse, short fiction and novel-in-progress resentfully compete for her attention. She lives in New Hamburg, Ontario, home to North America’s largest working water wheel. Coffee and family allow ideas to percolate.
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