Every Hope Is a Fuse

by Richard Lyons

Every hope is a fuse burning across hardpan,
every repressed pain a new impatience.
There is no rush. I wipe sweat from my eye.

I sprinkle a red bag of ant killer over a mound.
In a few days, the mound is burnt flat and bare.
What sprouts from my flesh?

Can I pick the culprit out of a crowd?
Whether my testimony is rational or insane
the individual holds precedent.

I follow myself at a discreet distance.
I never once blow my cover.
It’s the joy of travel in a foreign country.

When I stood among the cliffs at Mesa Verde,
deer approached me for cut bits of apple.
In a different past, a doctor sutures my skull.

My wound speaks a language I don’t understand.
Antiseptic is omission’s timpani.
The skin is sand and the dust of cicada, vole, rat.

Ghosts hate saliva. Swallows are blue mimeos.
The lizards lift their turquoise heads.
Who has snuffed the candles, crushed the runes?

My wonder, a tattered cloth—an ash apple.
I try to love the world. The world gives and gives.
My desires rise like smoke. Are the careful winds

our bureaucratic assistants? Hands are bone puppets.
The light is a white boulder, a clear thrust.
Who’d want a dead rat like a fielder’s mitt folded over?

Who’d want one’s own voice whispering come back?
There are ponds everywhere, hair close to the scalp.
Doesn’t memory, Time’s sycophant, blur the particulars?

Richard Lyons has published four books of poems.  In early 2020, his HEART HOUSE won the Emrys Chapbook Competition judged by Joseph Millar.  His work has appeared in such venues as The Nation The New Republic, Poetry, The Gettysburg Review, and The Paris Review.


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