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Six Poems by Adrian Slonaker

Springtime morning landscape in Des Moines, Iowa, USA, by Adrian Slonaker

“Wakefulness” The temperature crashes like a klutzy acrobat while an oscillating fan whirs for white noise, and the sheets shrouding my head overheat my dreams into a botched date with a dork I excised from my life in the nineties. Even in nightmares my savvy subconscious knows when to protect me by prodding me awake at eleven forty-five. Soon a teen idol dripping with brilliantine wails “do you really love me too?” on wax over a meowing guitar and pattering percussion, and I pull on a pair of baggy brown chinos and pop an anemic lemonade gumball guaranteed to be vegan because this month we balk at victimizing our terrestrial comrades or ourselves. “The Wolf On My Right Arm” The wolf on my right arm- the dominant one- appeared upstairs in a Newfoundland tattoo parlor while I spied seagulls gliding above the chilly coastline. The wolf meanders in the moonlight in search of sustenance just as I seek meaning in midnight musings. The wolf pursues pack play or gambols alone just as I hobnob with buddies or savor restorative stretches of solitude. The wolf is filleted as a threat to those who don't fathom its ways just as I've been slapped with the suspicions of the closed-minded. The wolf on my right arm displays gray-blue eyes wet with sweat just like the ones irrigated by my tears. “April Seventh” I hadn't gazed at you since we giggled through that game of Trivial Pursuit on the sofa of the café that doubled as a discotheque when you answered that the Australian soprano who inspired a peach dessert was called “Cobbler.” In two decades you'd gained gold stars for sustained spousehood and dadhood while I'd wed and de-wed without spawning. I'd stopped smoking, and you'd forayed into law enforcement once the brainwave of becoming a nurse had subsided like a 24-hour bug. After an iced coffee and a talk about cursing and fear, you let me clutch you closely, your solidness clamped against my chest as my ears cradled your husky-voiced vulnerabilities. Even if I haven't heard from you again since that April seventh four years ago, at least I can claim that this pacifist protected a cop.

“The Beetle” Lumbering over the sun-speckled concrete sidewalk, the traveler's legs buckled under its bulky brown carapace the way I bend under sacks chock-a-block with groceries. Less noisy than John, Paul, George or Ringo, this beetle nearly didn't catch my attention as it halted from fatigue or fear of being crushed by oblivious bipeds in Bermuda shorts. I nudged a bank card from my pocket next to the insect, which boarded the red plastic, lifting off like a fair-goer on a Ferris wheel before I deposited the passenger in the shelter of a shrub where it sped over the greenery with the light feet of relief. “Premonition” Someday the sojourner will end up a publicly-subsidized specter of spots and wrinkles retinol and Astral cream couldn't conquer and knobby bones under pale flesh and the dregs of demon fat that defeated decades of dieting. Tired of moody tedium and lonely mistrust but terrified of the time his heartbeat stops, he'll be strapped on to existence while watching century-old sitcoms in a sterile old folks' facility, forgotten by family members fallen by a bitter wayside but prodded by cold doctors with injections and pills and perky paid attendants who mispronounce his name and scold him for wanting to torment his stomach with a tofu vindaloo while needling him to take a nap as though he were once again a weird preschooler embarking on a lifetime of missed marks and elusive satisfaction.

“Rip Van Who?” I wish the first time I woke up past noon, I'd been slumbering after a bout of dancing in a Bellavista boîte between cigarettes torched by a lapis lazuli-studded lighter and swigs of pisco refreshing an oral orifice that would welcome the juicy and tender tongues of a sultry-voiced storyteller with ice-violet eyes and a rugby player with crude fingers in a no-tell nook on Avenida Manuel Montt framed by Andean humps and palm trees spitting their fronds across a dark sky needing to be explored. But I blinked hard at the black-and-white analog clock (broken two years later by airline security seeking bombs) alone in a slender bed on the fourth floor of the Woodward Court residence hall after an unfulfilling night with foil bags of crisps and cans of flat cola and the histories of Herodotus instead of hedonism at Regenstein Library, thankful I'd overslept on Saturday so I hadn't missed my mind-crushing Biblical Hebrew class at the Oriental Institute, only a tray of greasy doughnuts dished out by the dining unit.

Adrian Slonaker crisscrosses North America as a language boffin and is fond of opals, owls, fire noodles and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Adrian's work, which has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net, has been published in Ez.P.Zine, Page & Spine, The Pangolin Review and others. 

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