I still have trouble coloring inside the lines, which sounds like a metaphor for individuality or creativity or stubbornness but instead reflects a disconnect between my hand and my brain, my ability and my desire. I’ve never wanted anything more than to be able to follow the rules, but also I’ve always liked dandelions. I don’t understand the problem. The word weed doesn’t mean anything. It means what we want it to mean. Who wouldn’t want a yard full of wish-granting flowers? I guess most people. Do you think a blade of grass is allowed to forget it’s grass, is allowed the privilege of loneliness? Of course it is. The dandelion is also known as blow-ball, Irish daisy, piss-a-bed, priest’s crown, monk’s-head, milk witch, and cankerwort. So I was wrong. I often am. I grew up and learned how broken the rules are. I learned to pay attention to who gets hurt. It’s always someone. This is where my crayon veers. Call them expired stars. Call them home-in-the-morning. Call them wind-spread-breath, puff-of-ash, child-dream. Bring one close to your mouth. Hold a promise on your lips as long as you can. Blow. Watch; they do come true. They do. They do. They do.
Bumper sticker: My Target list includes a nose-hair trimmer.
This is everything I need to know
about which half of my life I’m in.
Look, all atoms decay; some are just less stable
along the way. (Bumper sticker.)
Should I measure by the life I’ve had so far
or by what lies ahead?
So much grieving, either way.
Coming soon: the death of everyone I’ve ever loved
plus my own, in no particular order.
In no sense have I come to terms with this.
I have already failed to hide
this mortality thing from my kids,
though I suppose the inevitable is not my fault.
Somewhere, amid all the visits to the children’s museum
& Dora the Explorer & a million Happy Meals,
a great-grandparent lets go. A hamster.
A classmate’s mother. People die
& continue dying; this is the least
profound thing I’ve ever written,
another terrible bumper sticker.
There’s something pleasing
about measuring by halves,
my life a theoretical frog
hopping along a theoretical log
in a word problem, nearing the end
without ever reaching it. But theory
is not practice, & I cannot go back
to brace for the questions
I should have seen coming:
What if you die? What if I die?
Rejected bumper sticker:
If you eat your broccoli, you will live forever.
Eventually I settled on the best I could offer:
none of us is going to die for a very long time.
For a while—long enough—my kids believe me.
Then I believe they still believe me.
Then we all know it’s a lie but agree
to pretend otherwise for as long as we can.
Bumper sticker: Life is one bumper sticker
after another. Think of words that might ease some pain,
drive them around hoping someone sees.
Amorak Huey is author of three books of poetry, most recently Boom Box (Sundress, 2019), as well as two chapbooks. He is co-author with W. Todd Kaneko of Poetry: A Writer’s Guide and Anthology (Bloomsbury, 2018) and teaches at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.
Amorak’s work previously appeared in April 2014, October 2014, July 2015, and August 2016.