I live in Tucson with my wife Connie and volunteer with Sky Island Alliance, a regionally-based environmental organization. I am also poetry editor for Zócalo, a local arts magazine. I'm an opportunist, not a poet with a plan. Whatever catches my fancy, I write about: an engaging image, a political or environmental issue, a bit of zoology, an overheard conversation, and, of course, love, love, love. In grad school, I fell in love with Jonathan Swift. Thirty years later, I still have to rein in my satirical impulses to protect whatever is tender in my poems. Diphtheria Festival, my tenth poetry collection, is now available from Main Street Rag Publishing. My new website: jeffersoncarterverse.com .
Today’s mail: an invitation to join
Arizona’s liveliest burial society.
Another illegible, handwritten note
offering to landscape the front yard.
A letter from my shrink informing me he’s
closing his practice. He extends best wishes
for my future health & happiness.
I don’t panic. I suppose I’m cured.
I’ll miss our sessions, discussing poetry
& joking about a better life through chemistry.
Now who will answer my inconsequential
questions, the ones nobody else cares about?
Did you know in Eastern psychology,
the word “personality” means scar tissue?
My animal? The platypus,
of course. Not the penguin,
too black & white. Not the wolverine,
ferocious & smelly. The horse?
No, why share with all those
white women who call themselves
Nightwind? The platypus reminds
me of me, his ambivalence,
his moral versatility, his head
like a furry spatula. Did you know
the platypus boasts a poisonous spur
on each thigh? Nerve damage,
paralysis, death. Welcome
to our biome. His spirit
animal? Me, of course.
After four beers, I steer out of the parking garage,
chair-dancing to “Bitches Brew,” the live version,
what the liner notes call “extraterrestrial Dixieland”
& somehow I run a stop sign. At least that’s what
the motorcycle cop tells me as I hand him my driver’s license.
He looks about thirteen, his little face peering out
from under the visor of the gold helmet.
I’m glad my wife never uses clichés, never says
if life gives you lemons, make lemonade
or every cloud has a silver lining.
She does believe young cops target old drivers,
an ageist conspiracy that needs exposing.
She got a speeding ticket last week
& swears the traffic cop wore his cap backwards.
But every cloud has a silver lining.
We’ll attend Defensive Driving School, bonding
together as all us oldies raise our hands
when the instructor asks, “How many of you
here consider yourselves excellent drivers?
These poems were first published in Diphtheria Festival (Main Street Rag Publishing: 2016)
Editor's Note: If this poem(s) moves you please consider writing to the author (email address above) to tell him or her. You might say what it is about the poem that moves you. Writing to the author is the beginning of community at Verse Virtual. It is very important. -FF
© 2017 Jefferson Carter