Rob Budde: Three Poems

WHAT WE DO

“Today it’s going to cost us twenty dollars”

–Gary Soto

Either rip off cereal box coupons, or don’t,
make note of how much milk is left, think
about trying another substitute—almond milk
maybe—walk to bus stop and find a quarter in
the weeds, shiny, like it might have just been dropped;
on the bus you remember you have to get a new
headlight for the car, and fix the side panel that
has come loose. You remember her face. They are
out of local organic eggs so you buy some that are
free run, but know you read somewhere that is not
that great. The internet bill is due today and you
pay it online by direct transfer. There is no other
way to do it. When you get home the cat has knocked
the open cereal box onto the floor and batted little pieces
everywhere. As you sweep, you wonder if it is worth it
to go out to get eggs and milk or stay home, and try
a poem or two. You think of her, her face, the way
she avoids your gaze, moves into forms.

 

ON NERVOUSNESS

whining at the door of
ridiculous requests

hoping that the rash
is not related

stuttering on an explanation
with no question

blabbering on about
herbs and balloons

the century that can
shatter the human myth

he leaned out the driver
window with the wind taking his words

all the reasons are piled
against the wall of the artery i keep forgetting the name of but
it is an important one and in real life not at all the neat shape
you see on hallmark cards and if i gush will i come clean will
the toxins spill out into the river and kill fish eggs aorta it’s the
aorta i am thinking of and it constricts when i say i love you
but is it the climate my aging cells or true

writing and deleting the same
message 44 times

writing a message and sending
it but before you were ready

chest pains are a sign hung
on the door saying ‘i am still here’

i tip over

 

IF I WERE A MAN

1. The tip of my conscious
gender would flinch

2. Time would stop for me, its
marks and transitions swiveling
to greet me; time as distance
I am traveling toward

3. I would eat
everything; toxins
don’t scare me because
I made them

4. My love of nature would know
no bounds; it houses
my ideas and feeds my
urges to make accurate maps;
I would travel the world and
experience it all; I’d be open
to new ideas, thrills, all the exotic
has to offer

5. I would make lists to
characterize gender; the constructions
hardwired into my male hunter
brain as I lumber across the land looking
for sustenance, an animal to bring down

6. I would depend on semicolons
to condition my thinking; it is like
a binary flipside to everything
I do

7. I would love women—not all
women, some are down-right frightening—
with every ounce of my being, revere
their form and sure-footed wisdom

8. Numbers would be in my pocket

9. I would be to-the-point, upstanding,
gentle, forgiving, generous—my abilities
would be the world’s to have; I would be
in the conditional future tense

10. If I were man imagining being
a woman I’d try to
be one of the guys, fit in and
be cool; I’d leave behind that tortured past and
just move on

11. My poems would be emotive, glimpses
into the inner workings of the world, the human
made tactile in the flick of image—
a hawk espied on the horizon

12. I would love language, its access
to thought and persuasive tenor; I would die
without words, without pages of alphabetized
props, without that paper-thin veil to hide
my fear (she) that invades

_____

Rob Budde teaches creative writing at the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George. He has published seven books (poetry, novels, interviews, and short fiction), his most recent books being a collection of poetry titled Finding Ft. George (Caitlin Press 2007) and Declining America (BookThug 2010). Find him at writingwaynorth.blogspot.com.

 

Northern BC folio curated by Gillian Wigmore.

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