What someone manages to broadcast on television
will help keep us alive. Behind barricaded doors
we’ll lose ourselves in reruns, feast on corn and rice
scavenged from deserted farms. We’ll sew scraps
of lace into beautiful shawls to remind the world
it wasn’t always rubble and the stench of burnt meat.
No one knows who erected the solar cells but thanks
to them I dream about a hundred pastries I’ll never
eat again, relive historic battles so basic they look like
kids with sticks. A vision: one night we’re sharing
soup with strangers at an old diner. We sip gin made
in a neighbor’s bathtub and go blind as someone
nearby dies from what wasn’t killed in the boil.
The half-life of fallout makes everyone untouchable.
Tonight, let’s watch lewd movies on a loop and relive
memories of our nearly-perfect skin. After sundown
we’ll generate the current that draws body to body,
an electricity that scorches before it slides into joy.
The Voice as Love in the Universe
At a table a few feet away a happy plump cop
and his happy plump wife pick appliances
out of catalogues and sketch spaces on blueprints
for new cabinets, barstools, a disposal.
Their joy makes me despise them
and their sunlights, their eaves, their
smiling mochas. That’s how she ordered:
Two smiling mochas, please. Please.
Sliding glass doors? Casseroles in the freezer?
I love all that but it can’t be the pinnacle
of desire, can it? I mean, I want
to be intimate with someone, want breath
on my neck to be the home I’ve longed for,
their whispers bribes or promises.
Today I’m eating a slice of brandy pound cake
peering into the grey afternoon when
I hear a voice from the other room:
My name is Helen, by the way. I’m trying to be
upbeat. Yes, I’d say I’m pretty upbeat—
since I got away. A hush settles over the café
like a venetian blind. Suddenly everyone
within earshot wants recessed lighting and
pairs of frozen dinners, everyone
is reminded we’re all singing rough songs
out of damaged architecture, structurally unsound
inside and out, frames that collapse
under excess pressure.
SM STUBBS co-owns a bar in Brooklyn, NY. He is the recipient of a scholarship to Bread Loaf Writers Conference and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best New Poets. Winner of the 2019 Rose Warner Poetry Prize from The Freshwater Review, he was also runner-up in both the Atticus Review Poetry Contest 2019 and the Cagibi 2019 Macaron Prize in Poetry. His work has appeared in Poetry Northwest, The Normal School, Puerto del Sol, Jabberwock Review, The Pinch, Cherry Tree, Opossum, Glassworks, The Bookends Review, Carolina Quarterly, Iron Horse Literary Review and others.