The Opposite of Antipodes
I buy the poet’s book because
he is dating one of my exes
and hope he will take her out
to the café with the proceeds,
because I want her to get out more.
Then the poets I know walk into
the bar, and I pass it around.
Word salad, says D__.
Overworked, says B__,
and beautiful in the way
of the poets we imagine,
she flicks her hair and smiles.
We drink tequila and rewrite
the entire book as its opposite,
so where it says, “You have no faith
in certainty,” we pen, I have
no doubt about ambiguity.
“A sound too deep for peacocks,”
becomes baby blue for blind turkeys,
figuring it all means pretty much
the same, though we cannot pinpoint
the antonym of antipodes
or what happened to words
to make them so pointless.
We are sloppy by now and falling
into each other in the booth,
but know enough to back away
from the place our words have led us.
This is not unlike the opposite
of the days I passed with her,
as we stumbled toward hyperbole:
that time we pulled over and screwed
on the hood of my car
on a Rockwall, Texas frontage road
as three AM truckers screamed
past us, and my MA exam
loomed in Lubbock, a day
and a few hours later; or how
we'd find God in Chicago boredom,
there, on the sidewalk and know
what was meant by skyward vines
and sunset crickets; or when
she would cry because paint dries,
tops sit unspun, and people
she loves are no longer, and I
would say things I hoped would help.
But maybe her poet knows
what I do not about words.
They are useless glue and cannot fix
two people when they are broken,
and when they had the talk in which
they examined each other’s exes,
he only nodded in silence when she
told him I was good until I wasn’t,
or I was never good, or always good,
but bricks are hard when they fall
out of the sky for no reason.
Or she laughed, shook her head,
and told him I was the easy one.
She’d read me like a book and known
from the first page forward I didn’t
make any sense, and shouldn’t
have been written in the first place.
Editor's Note: The beautiful photograph by Moshe Sakal was chosen by The Ekphrastic Review to convey the sense of life's natural weaving of vines in love and in poetry that the poem evoked for us, taken from the line about "skyward vines." The poem itself was written in response to poetry, not to a particular painting or photograph.
Todd Heldt is a librarian in Chicago. His first collection of poetry, Card Tricks for the Starving, was published by Ghost Road Press. Other things written under various pseudonyms have appeared in print, on the internet, and on movie screens. Since becoming a father his biographical statement has less time to be interesting.
The Ekphrastic Review
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