Ephraim Scott Sommers
The following poems first appeared in Someone You Love Is Still Alive,
winner of the 2019 Jacar Press Full-Length Book Award.
Feather Moon: watercolor and charcoal on paper/denim canvas, detail of a 20 x 16 in.. Celeste Goyer
LOVE SONNET (BROKEN INTO BY AMERICA)
IN THE FIRST YEAR OF OUR MARRIAGE
Police shot and killed 1,165 Americans in 2018.
5,000 American veterans committed suicide with a gun in 2018.
My wife blowing invisible love notes across her noodle soup. Dancing, my wife
in sunshine, in sandals, in cutoff shorts, in sunshades, in our living room. My wife.
Police shot and killed 215 black Americans in 2018.
22,000 Americans committed suicide with a gun in 2018.
Maroon ribbon on a Saturday afternoon in my wife’s hair.
Behind the yellow bicycle, like birds, my wife’s brown hair.
Americans shot and killed 3,804 Afghan civilians in 2018.
Americans shot 3,943 American kids in 2018.
Our country of marriage. My love. My wife. A bright lozenge.
The words rolling along my tongue like a watermelon lozenge.
My wife and I and 207 glasses of chardonnay on Sunday evenings in 2018.
In 2018, Americans shot and killed 11,984 American people.
I GET DRUNK WHILE CAMPING AND IMAGINE MYSELF A BULLET
My name is sometimes the wound, sometimes the weapon. Fuck me
for what I’ve done, and fuck my past,
but still I have to live here
and try to love. Then, another rip from another red and blue cup of rattlesnake
fangs, and mmm I hum drunk
as if my teeth were bees again,
I hum, for there is another choice, tonight,
to be myself
for another night
or to be the Okeechobee Lake
I am wading neck-deep into
forever, for who, in the warm deep, as the modern moon dazzles
the dappled water,
glancing at the far-off campfire from where they came,
in their night meanderings
not to be that single flailing light
but to be
the dark everything clasping shut around it?
The past is like that. All around me
is every better thing in every better state I could’ve been
and wasn’t. I do this, so often, as I do again, now, neck-deep
in night, in all this America
that isn’t me,
while forty yards away my wife wags a marshmallow
like a spell above the flame. Again, I think of killing myself and never do.
I kill a moth. I kill a tree. I kill another cup of blue vodka, stomp back wet
to the fire, and shout to the dirt, What the bullet wants to eat is everything!
MAYBE SEX IS TWO PEOPLE TRYING FOR THE SAME TIME AND PLACE
my wife whispers
no it is certain she decrees
dancing closed the bedroom door with her backside
while the day waits
the blinded windows
we barrel-roll back into bed
the sun outside is counting chickens
hungry to dump its ego
like runny yolk all over
our separate sets of shoulder
to pull our arms further apart
the sky is always waiting for war
but we dance the book closed my friends
we dance the covers back over us
two thin pages pressed together
from the same great bible
we make love in the morning