Matthew Henriksen

Matthew Henriksen’s first book, Ordinary Sun, appeared on Black Ocean in 2011.  Recent poems appear in The Cultural Society, Toad Suck Review, Apartment, Yalobusha Review, Mandorla, Bestoned: The New Metaphysick, andBright Pink Mosquito.  He co-edits the online poetry journal Typo, sporadically publishes Cannibal, a hand-bound literary journal, and runs The Burning Chair Readings.  He currently lives in the Arkansas Ozarks and works at the Dickson Street Bookshop.

I Throw Rocks

If you need a friend whose wings have lost their speed, find me behind the planetarium. We can throw rocks until the Zippo explodes. Once I watched two willows divorce and flare up into angels singing Hell Hymns to gasoline as they ascended into separate space stations in the dark. Where you dock matters to old friends. Your family might not recognize you in the space suit, but your new neighbors will appreciate your honesty, or your naivety, whatever charms them longest and makes you bearable in a shared atmosphere. As with all meetings, our first rule will not end. After that, attempts at authority allow us only to collapse upon each other. Sex often interrupts ideas. We close our eyes and imagine fire in aluminum containers which generate variations of sounds we sought as a forgotten memory, a hazy but formidable blank, a piece missing from a light fixture in the room where we slept, and, though we did not grow up together, the color from a lost photograph we want to take over again.

We will repeat many of the same words. We cheat language. Our tongues discuss tactile noise. Kissing is cute, yes, while listening to our sweaters. Our child sleeps in the other room and even the silence hears her alien dreams. She, alligator or snowflake, chases the neighborhood dogs. All her dreams have animals, which allows us to live together undisturbed through the choking labyrinths of adulthood, toward the end of the maze with cobwebbed and shredded fabric walls. What has become of the divorce we fleeted? Rocks and dust everywhere. Our parents left us here and now the empty room is ours. We sleep. We drink water. We fight. We go on missions for soap and dentistry. How obscenely we wean ourselves from circumstance and birth anew. You find mistletoe up in the elms, and I find hollyhocks inside a river inside a book. You laugh at gumball seeds on the sidewalk, and our daughter shrieks at each crescent moon.

We emerge from our apartment and rattle down the highway in our broken car. You point out hawks, hundreds of hawks. Our daughter sings “Salt Peanuts!” and solos Charlie Parker. No one knows what notes hide in another’s head or where in our brains’ photomorphic pastures our thoughts hide and play or where they divide or if there is division at all. An ear infection turns into the realization that I do not need a style, only to move and watch the formations of time, of sound, and of color and shape. The light now, in our dark living room, where I type with one exhausted eye on my phone, does not reach through the open door to you and our daughter asleep in the next room,. I am no longer sick with fire or bad ideas. I put on my glasses and write with two eyes and two thumbs. As the heating fan shuts off I can hear the throb again in my bad ear. Still sick with infection, I move through time by writing down what faces me.

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