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,

doesn’t want  

                                                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

shiny behind

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

 

of marriage

 

                                                                   we make love in the morning