Two Poems by Roy White

Exam

It’s not pain, exactly,
what I feel
as mild Dr. Hou
scrapes at the membrane
on my cornea, just

something wrong
like a gentle finger
brushing my pancreas
or liver.
No need for anesthetic.

The hard part is to stare,
fighting the urge to blink,
straight ahead at
a well-lit version,
of the usual nothing.

*

Dead Nature with Hamburger and Pencil

Yeats wanted to come back as nothing
natural—instead a metal bird,
a metal singing bird.

I felt sorry, as a kid,
for homemade hamburgers.
White Castle sliders were machined
like car parts, neat and square
with holes punched out, it seemed,
by drill press.

Into a hot vat of red Jell-O
we’d lower a half-gallon
of vanilla ice cream;
it made a springy foam
like the padding in a torn
sofa cushion.

I loved pencils, loved to feel my teeth
break through the smooth paint
into the vulnerable wood, loved
the gritty resilience of chewed eraser
between my molars.

When Pop died and we had to move,
we just papered over the wall
where somebody shoved Mary
so hard she left a hole
in the rotting plaster.

*

Roy White is a blind person who has worked as a software engineer and ESL teacher. He lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota. His poems have appeared in Kenyon Review, Copper Nickel, Diagram, and elsewhere.