About the (dys)functional poet:
Rachel Contreni Flynn’s upcoming book is Tongue, winner of the Benjamin Saltman Award and forthcoming from Red Hen Press. She’s also the author of Haywire, a chapbook published by Bright Hill Press in spring 2009. Her first book, Ice, Mouth, Song, was published in 2005 by Tupelo Press, after winning the Dorset Prize. Rachel was awarded a Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts for 2007. She and her husband live with their little kids in Mundelein, Illinois.
We Must Wake As Something Greater Than Ourselves
I fell asleep as fire and woke again
as smoke. I haven’t the strength to fill
the house, even to drift high enough
to trigger the bright-eyed alarm. I’ll just
hover here, like a failed and tedious genie
whose magic carpet is sick, belligerent,
and just wants to sleep on the floor
under a gentle dog like something normal.
An angry boy hides in the weeds, then emerges with a plastic sack
in his hands. The 18-wheeler moves slowly, enormously along the rough road,
like the years to come with nothing clean or sweet or warm. The boy
no longer hides but palms apple after apple, rotten with dirt and syrup,
lets loose and hits the trailer broadside. He’s a pitcher, a sniper, a rock star.
He’s a bit of starchy flesh smashed, then splashed into the air. The boy waits
on the road for the flare of brake lights, the downshift exhaust, the booted leg
that eases out of the truck with the elegance of scarcely controlled fury.
It’s cozy in moonlight: small brown playhouse
with a red Dutch door half-open, the precise shadow
a geometry lesson on the frosty yard. Sweet holiday card.
Humble, typical, tiny replica with a sturdy roof.
Who knew the snakes would hibernate there
and in the spring drag chipmunks, screaming, inside?