Hardly a splash of water on my face
and I’m out the door to scrub
pots at the pub, thinking, What
a poor dish-dog I am.
Mumbling in my car
while shifting into reverse, I slam
into a can of brilliant trash:
busted beer bottles, stuffed
rabbit’s gut bleeding cotton,
box of worm-ridden donuts.
I spin out, scratching
my stubble till my chin’s red,
Children—in a school zone,
a mother in a mini-van
flipping me off
for good reason
when a line
for my next poem
pops up in my head: This
monstrous ulcer named Work
is the foundation of Art—
before I brake at the light
while sparrows flutter
on wires, then
until the hawk swerves in.
How to Delay a Panic Attack
Breathe in. Hold it. Breathe out. Repeat.
Hustle to your bathroom.
Don’t forget to scrub yesterday’s pizza
from your mouth. Breathe in.
Pluck your wild nose-hairs.
Brush lint from your shirt.
Scratch the scab off your knee
like it’s a lottery ticket.
Don’t rush on your drive to work.
Breathe out. Recite a Shakespeare sonnet.
Notice your brow’s furrows
in the rearview. Breathe in. Tally
each freckle. Are your earlobes attached
or detached? Breathe out. Rewind the tape.
Ode to Watching Ikiru
I pause the film. Framed by the bars of a jungle-gym,
Kanji Watanabe swings like a child, singing
“Gondola No Uta.” Snowflakes start a flurry.
Shimura shines through his role. The bureaucrat’s
final days would have been too brutal for a lesser actor:
you have stomach cancer, but your beloved son
treats you like a bank? I’ll pass. The snow falls.
Wearing his iconic hat, the old man sings,
no special effects
needed. As our hero says earlier: I don’t know
what I’ve been doing with my life. Not true.
I’m plotting against ennui, pressing play.
Jason Gordy Walker (he/him) is a multi-genre writer and an MFA student in poetry at the University of Florida, where he teaches a fiction workshop. His poems have been published in Broad River Review, Cellpoems, Confrontation, Measure, and Poetry South, among others.