The subjectivity of success
riles up the class I should be teaching.
The gladdest heart’s a waste
if all you need is hustle.
It’s tough to think the moon’s
a flake, a swear-licked soap cake,
a person who pretends it’s fine
you’re fucking other people.
It takes guts to get ahead, they say.
A thesis statement sets a limit.
Some governments shoot poems
into space, some shoot poets.
For fewer but more perfect blooms,
experts say to prune the buds.
Cut buds bloom awhile in a water glass
and demonstrate the perfect grace
that comes with dying. What am I saying?
I am saying that I love to be alive,
but love’s a violent feeling. I’m powerless
against the honey bees who have no option
but industry. Kindness is important work
but I am weak. I’m not the woman
I thought I’d be. What kind of heaven
is available only to the dead?
If I were a clover in the lawn I’d have more sway
with myself / I’d tender more to gentleness.
In another life I walk a mile to the train
past a pair of red lions holding out their fangs.
Red lions holding out
for a higher bid on their single-family home
after three hundred days a little waiting
makes the money sweeter
when they eat it.
Muscle holding up my arm
on the train like it’s a basketball game
and I’m boxing out.
I’m heading home to display
a bowl of apples, because still life
lends plain old shit a sense of perfection.
The lions are statues, but I think of them as people,
sweet on each other pointlessly,
standing up as if there were no seasons.
There is no reason for another poem
about roses / you
can read my mind with ease:
it’s been remarked that while ye may
roses are there for gathering.
Except a mind is not a place:
to be is clearly not.
I grew the roses on a whim
but they are turning out to need attention.
I bend cut stems into the trash
but in my heart I heap them on myself.
I feel tired of minding for those who do not mind.
Tiredness is not much reason to give up.
But a poem is not about reason.
A person doesn’t need a reason
to build a flying saucer on her own damn property:
people have to be allowed some space
to figure out the limits of their understanding.
I think it’s normal to be terrified
of losing it
but I should probably relax.
The birds in the sky belong in the sky
and I belong
to you. In a perfect world I would
belong to myself.
Anything less is lost. To make a bird
you have to break some eggs. Throw yourself
to the sky and see what comes down.
Sara Wainscott’s recent work appears in The Journal Petra, Powder Keg, DIAGRAM, Ghost Ocean, BOAAT, and elsewhere. She co-curates Wit Rabbit, an inter-genre reading series in Chicago.