Joshua Marie Wilkinson


If each story
          depends on the part
                           the teller forgets...
      Boy scatter. Sleeping pill
                                    sleep & the twisted
         out splinter in my arm from the dream.

In the movie
the man tears out the page in the phone book

at the pancake house. These aren't even movie sets.
This really is Arkansas. Black-fisted, tire swing,
bird shatter. The kiss dried on your face.

One woman kicks another in the bathroom stall,
the dog returns through the cracks in the fence,

Another question which starts with the word if
just brings a man to the ground slowly
like ellipses & a paragraph break.

Swimming in the river
where the cattle trundle around.

A snake in the dead boy's mouth.
The wife of the churchyard
caretaker who bleaches her face in the bathroom.

Gin rummy. Your slick way of saying alright
like granddad.

I've come all the way back
by three busses, night fog & a little whatchyacallit
to the funeral. Somebody

mistakes your uncle
for your father
                                              at the reception.
    It occurs to me that even music
                                             wouldn't do this to us
                  without first
                  asking for a dance.



Over Christmas last year my mother taught me how to play Gin Rummy. My brother is very good at games. But when her turn is up my mother likes to peer over our shoulders and make cooing and clucking sounds to indicate possible unseen manuevers and/or dubious, ill-thought out strategies. The poem was written after seeing Allison Maletz's photographs at Capsule Gallery in NYC. It's for Jason and Tracy Zuzga.