Fingerprint of Speaking

Today is for changing itineraries and guilty smiles. Rubbing puppies’ bellies and swapping glances with the guy scooping ice cream like “Come on, man. I asked for a large.” Gamblers’ tells all. Young buck at the edge of the woods looking for a fight as I head out for a run in morning fog heavy with almost-November chill. The first half-mile a little less-limpy than usual. And then understanding like a watermelon dropped out a 3rd floor dorm window bouncing into the basket of a passing bicyclist who pedals away whistling “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.” Bonbons sticky with extra icing. Extra bitter coffee. The world is softening butter. A gentle rain thru a pinkening sky. My hands in a book I’ve never read but one that I’ve always wanted to. A book I didn’t know I owned. The story of a boy walking home from school unsure of whether or not his parents will be there when he arrives. With every step, sections of the sidewalk become ice cubes floating in a frat party punch bowl. Somehow he manages to leap from one to another to another, his backpack bouncing up and down off his spine. The air fills with the stench of pissing diesel engines like toddler hands sticky with 100% not-juice drink. A line-up of bird silhouettes along a telephone wire desperate to look like they’re not looking. It’s all kind of cute. It’s not cute at all. Down an alley to the right, a couple of matching blue suits playing hopscotch. A third juggles four, no, five limes. He’s lost his grocery list! He’s taking bets, oh! Look at him.

Mark Gosztyla’s poems have recently appeared, or are forthcoming, in LUMINA, mojo, minnesota review, Miracle Monocle, Oakland Review, Outlook Springs, and Thin Air Magazine. Gosztyla studied poetry in the University of New Hampshire’s MFA program and currently teaches at Choate Rosemary Hall. Gosztyla lives in Wallingford, CT, with his wife and two daughters.