SPOTLIGHT: Mothers, Lovers and Roadside Burials by Amy Solo

Amy Solo writes and teaches creative writing, performance poetry and yoga in Olympia, WA. She served as Poet Laureate of the City of Olympia from 2017-2019, educating and promoting literary arts through public displays and sense of place. Her work has appeared in anthologies including Poets Against the War, Objet d’Art and has received the Edna K. Herzberg Prize for Poetry (2003).

Sinus

Free like the sign on the stuff at the curb no one wants,
the table, loveseat, baby walker we give away.

Lost your sense
of smell, stuffed up with clutter and batting, can’t sense
a bad decision, a leg trap, a heat lamp.

Instead,
give away your heart
in the wrong moments and try to get it back, but
no! You lost the scent.

Wonder if breathing will ever be easy,
or if your hearing will get better as a result.

Gastrocnemius
For Socrates

A very sexy calf. It slips from the edge of the
death bed, I’m flexing like a sprinter, like
a dancer.

Look at this pose, sculpt me, paint me.

I’m still talking while you’re talking, I’m pushing
my index finger thick through molasses
along the imaginary things that
divide the sun from the eye,
surrounded by ones who love me, you
can’t take your eyes off that calf,
even as I take the cup,
even as I drink the hemlock.

Heel

Heel step, roll the foot,
your walk gives you away now.
Would there
have been a way out,
you never would have first-kissed on a rooftop
or broke your heart on a bass drum.
You never would have known
what kind of shitty person you could be;
feeling nothing when the first
flutist died in a car accident before school began,
the steering column
pierced her breast bone,
and I wonder if that was my first
real thought of death,
because I seem to live like there is an afterlife.

Phlegm

Chewing on wine fleshed phlegm,
I experience what Kant calls now–
in a slow eyeblink, existence stands
disrobed. This year
I’ve drifted so far away from myself.

Wonder if you’ve taken ample notes
or if you’re ever coming back.

Neurons

When the moon is full
when thunder rolls &
lightning cracks so close
the little hairs stand straight, then.

When the cicadas blister
out of their skin,
when our skin is so hot
from our day in the ocean, then,
when we are more salt
than water, then.

When we wake, startled to see,
the baby is still breathing,
when we cannot identify
what that noise was,
then we remember our night dreams.

I Am the Shot

In the paint
under pads
stick, knees
frozen, lift
until the crack
of clavicle
hitting ice
ends the shift.

Avoiding collapse
barricaded in
the band room
military school
because you idolized
your grandpa
not because
you were
hoodlum,
ghetto trash
yet
we’re sending you
to Academy
so you
don’t go to
prison. Shed
recognition like
snake skin,
hazed
at home,
at school
between blows
your beater
asks arms &
spit flailing
“how long
are you
going to
lay down &
take it?”

bare ass
German doctor’s
cold hands
inject Agent
Orange, Anthrax,
pain cocktail
needles big as
your forearm
thick as
oil thieves
mistaken for
a rapist
how can
any boy tell
one six foot
white male
in a line up
from another?
bullets over Iraq
backing barrel
of rifle
in that Iraqi boy’s
chest back
the fuck up
no one touches
these guns
will fucking
kill you

Jameson neat,
neater,
neatest,
after the third shot,
exit bar somehow
climb into truck somehow
drive in slow motion
hitting something
slumping, slunk
slurring hard as
your face grinds
into the dirt in
our yard
neighbors
gawk from front porches
somebody has you
in an arm bar.
The off duty
cop that
trailed you
lays on top
of you
asks me
“Is he yours?”

Holding infant close
that last shot
was the one that
went off in the dark
that shot out
our windows
that flipped
my switch
to point
of no return.
That last shot
was the one
that ended us.

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