Five Poems by Nathaniel Sverlow

reflection

 

standing at the corner

waiting for the light

to change

 

a bus turns hard right

in front of me

 

in the tall windows

passing

one after the other

I see a man

 

in loose fitting clothes

with disheveled, greying hair

and glasses falling off

his nose

 

he looks familiar,

a reflection I’ve seen before

but haven’t really looked at

until now

 

the bus pulls away

 

I no longer see the man

but I feel him now

more than ever

 

the light changes

and we cross the street

together


1408

 

I dreamt

of 1408

again

last night

 

the old Victorian

on the edge

of town

 

I lived there

five years

 

drank there

another five

 

and now

it lives

in me

 

the slanted stairs

 

the iron door

 

the hardwood floors

declined

 

the dust and mold

 

the musky clothes

 

of dizzy dreamers

 

dancing

with a ten-foot portrait

of Marilyn Monroe

 

the back rooms

front rooms

trap doors

and passageways

 

the condemned

first floor

used for storage

 

hell

even the avocado trees

out back

however poorly pruned

 

it all lives

in me

on me

like a scar

well-earned

something

of which

to be

proud

 

oh 1408!

they’ve killed you

since

knocking you down

building you up

symmetrical

and safe

with a fresh coat

of paint

 

they fixed you

the way they fix

everything

 

but now

your spirit

has found

a home

in me

the way

so many

found

a home

in you

 

they’ll never

find you

fix you

here


only time

 

I put it in

the first time

by candlelight

Enya serenading

as a steady breeze

blew through

your open windows

 

do you want me?

you said

 

yes

 

then take me

 

so I took you

the way I thought

you needed to be taken

 

I had done my research

male, female

plus, minus

cathode, anode

and sparks

hopefully

 

is it in?

I said

 

yes

you said

in that way

that told me

I needed more research

 

for you turned off

much faster

than I had turned on

 

and I finished

inside you

with the dull

chaffing

of latex

 

and apologetic telepathy

 

for it had been

my first time

and possibly

my last

 

maybe

 

only time,

said Enya


something new

 

the first time

I went out with Lindsey

we drank at an underground dive

 

six or seven glasses

 

then she took me to a place

along the water

this boat, or ferry, or whatever

converted into a restaurant

 

when we arrived

an Irish folk band was playing

songs from the Old Country

and people were clapping, crying,

singing aloud

 

we ordered our drinks

and took them outside

to a table that faced

the moonlit river

and Lindsey sat closer to me

than ever before

 

a warmth filled my body

 

this is almost like a date, she said

 

almost

 

so what’s your marriage like?

are you guys

open to anything new?

 

yeah, we’re open,

but she has to make the call,

know what I mean?

 

she’s so beautiful.

you’d be okay with me…

 

sure. yeah.

if that’s what she wanted.

 

she smiled, leaned in

and my heart began its own

bodhran solo

as we sat together

listening to the music

looking out over the water

the two of us

warm and trembling

at the thought

of something new


waiting to be filled

 

my mind

is an empty wine bottle

 

there is nothing

good

left inside

or outside

but for the aftertaste

in my brain

 

a slurred vision

of hips swaying

downstream

 

I follow your current

though I’m drowning

though I’m dead

 

my mind

rolls down

the empty alley

cracks against

prohibition brick

 

I pour

underground

underwater

with flapper phantasms

and a faded jazz juke

with wailing

Seraphim horn

 

I pool

in the low light

in the dusty vanity

over well liquor

 

my bottles

my friends

they baptize me with Fire

they sanctify

my loneliness

with romantic ruminations

with the promise of potentiality

 

I wait for your return

 

I follow your current

your flow

 

my mind throbbing

my bottle as empty

as a grave

 

waiting to be filled


Nathaniel Sverlow is a freelance writer of poetry and prose. He currently resides in the Sacramento area with three cats, one incredibly supportive wife, and his young son. His previous publishing credits include Typehouse Literary Magazine, Black Fox Literary Magazine, The Fiction Pool, Squawk Back, and Bone Parade. He is currently finishing his first poetry compilation, The Blue Flame of My Beating Heart, set to release later this year.

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