I worked more than 30 years as an engineering editor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Roles before academia included psychiatric tech/caseworker and nursing home evaluator. My most recent writing has appeared in Star 82 Review, Anima, and Right Hand Pointing. My 5 children and 3 grandchildren live nearby.
I'm unstoppable like Rocky Marciano
on my good days: Life, give me your best
punch, I'll knock you on your ass.
Rocky never lost: 49 and 0, lights out, fellas!
I, too, jab, feint, dance circles around my foes,
lift my arms, victorious—when I'm on,
though other times my chin is glass, while life's
is pure titanium: alley scuffles, bloody scrums--
it's bite and kick just to stay alive!
I've claimed his cock-sure smirk, earned
my warped nose and cauliflower ears
shadowing him, refusing to go down easy--
only Jersey Joe and the Mongoose decked him.
And Death, who took one helluva beating the day
Rocky rode that plane down, slugging to the end.
Note: On August 31, 1969, on the eve of his 46th birthday, Rocky Marciano died in a small private plane crash near Newton, Iowa.
Can you hear it—
whispering in the cupboard
where we stacked the Goodwill dishes?
What do they know?
Is the knack for predicting lives
of people like us the recompense
for all their nicked and chipped years?
Might they be prophesying happiness?
Questioning our love's fulfillment?
Does their vast experience gauge
constancy? Love's immunity to change?
Do they slice and dice our words,
gaze in our eyes for tell-tale signs
of boredom, placing educated bets?
So short-sighted our thrift,
entrusting to cheap-talking dishes
our lives before we've lived them!
We must donate them back,
place our fate in the hands of a gleaming
service for 8 that comes with kids,
long, happy lives, carefree retirement
and graves bought and readied.
Today, we start anew. I'll say I love you.
Then you repeat the same.
Aching for Honor
A triangle describes the zoo bison's range.
As the passenger pigeon flew, it's roughly
60 yards NW from the old wooden barn
to the always bulging hay rack,
another 60 NE to a shade tree near the fence.
Close the triangle, returning to the barn.
Winter? Forget the tree: it's 60 yards to eat and sleep.
Bison eyes weigh heavily in their massive skulls,
their great jaws grinding cud. Standing
or reclining on the hard-packed earth,
they drift from sleep into merciful sleep—
sometimes you'll catch their deep-eyed gape,
whether biting flies, gas in the gut, or
the flicker of visceral memory: tall grasses,
weaving rivers, unchecked freedom beneath
gracious skies. And when they move,
it's scarcely faster than their image on the nickel.
The corral seems the antithesis of all they are.
But watch awhile. The gates of your eyes
opening, see beneath their powerful hump
spirit smoldering, primal desire forever
poised to send them thundering, lunging
among their kind through whipping grass,
heedless of danger in wait.
Headlong would these zoo bison charge,
daring, aching for an arrow,
an honorable death.
Saturday Morning with Children
What the gray sunrise served up—
that scramble of atoms on cold,
careless space your coffee,
Zoloft, and pixelated news
failed to make palatable—
you now must brush aside,
for the children have arisen
hungry from their dreams,
fueled by plans for the zoo.
Having them before you,
what could be more clear?
Love is all you know,
filling their bowls with milk,
watching cold space turn to flesh.
My Witch Doctor Lover
Turn glum, you trees,
expose the wren's house,
muck the gutters with leaves.
Light bulbs, practice your
feeble imitation of sunlight.
Fall, snow—I don't care.
Am I SAD, am I doomed
till spring showers bring May,
my dear WebMD?
My witch doctor lover,
flashed before me,
maybe an hour ago, or two—
no one's counting—
no mere towel could contain,
"So whatcha thinkin'?"
©2016 Darrell Petska
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