Medium of Release

Michael Istvan

1

Taking it out on the funeral director.

2

Weed brings them together after several years
silent since the repressed “bad touches,”
but dad’s high compliments are tinged with flirtation.

3

Those who grope for the brass ring in hope that all
will then be okay, but are let down after reaching it
because death is what they were after all along.

4

If either is worthy of being wiped out,
it is not the conman but the smug one
who really thinks that he is a sorcerer.

5

People still lose themselves
in play, knowing there to be
no chance to make the NBA.

6

Mugs held between sweater sleeves at the fire.

7

Lead convulsions.

8

Yard sale prescription glasses.

9

Because the dread of death is lingering—
that is how we still manage daily tasks
with the dread of death lingering.

10

Warm baths before school
from a dish sponge dipped
in coffee pot water.

11

Condemning gay sex on grounds
that Leviticus unequivocally forbids it
even as you catch pigskin footballs.

12

Sometimes the subject
is not to be centered
in the viewfinder.

13

Condemning gay sex on grounds
that most animals do not do it
even as you use an electric toothbrush.

14

Thoughts turning hair grey.

15

Straight-razor tucked in the bra.

16

What is left in the fridge after death.

17

Breasts that can be thrown over shoulder.

18

Furrows cross the grain of the deejay’s corduroys.

19

Workdays spent building with packets of sweetener.

20

Driving around all day getting pain prescriptions filled.

21

Those for whom the smaller the talk the better the buoy.

22

Not wanting to admit, even
to yourself, your hope
to die in your sleep.

23

Casual explanations
are more shaded than before—
unexpected side orders.

24

Those sentenced to be hung
forced in the meantime
to carry out hangings.

25

If to have a title on a poem
is to treat the reader as dumb,
where should the cutting stop?

26

A self-help book for how to open up to self-help books.

27

His blank face, as he bottles
the infant in his arms, speaks
of submission to his fate.

28

Bodily deformities
(goiters, humps, lop-shoulders) taken as signs of evil character.

29

Waterways of yellow fury run
over bridges, but evacuees
first load their cars to the limit.

30

Arms-out entries from high cliffs: water-bruising.

31

Painters who seem apprenticed on separate planets.

32

A mother’s bra —
booby traps
for the three-year old.

33

Avoiding each other’s eyes
to deny the threat
that we have been denying.