Five poems – Sharon Black

Sharon Black

The Big Broken

Now that we’ve seen Broken/not just
on a screen or read about Broken
or leveraged second-hand Broken
to open our hearts to the good
causes it can spawn/now that it’s
happened to us and looking back
we see how Broken conspired to break
all along and broke when there was
no way to interrupt from the first crack
down to the finest splintering/now
that we’ve seen how Broken will
never again be unbroken and how
things couldn’t possibly be any more
broken (hah!) we walk with solemn
grace through the ruins suspicious
of friends/preferring embraces
of strangers as we set about digging
through Broken’s fine grey dust
we assume is the moon’s but don’t
bother verifying/we are so busy
working through the remains/our
fingers already without nails or prints
and starting to knit back into paddles
we’ll only be able to use for the bigger
less broken stuff unless evolutionary
gods rumored to exist change
course/break them out of their oars
back into real hands again.

Life Cycle of a Gift Squandered

It happens either suddenly or over time you discover it
lying on the bottom of this deep well inside you.
You want nothing more than to hoist it up
(you start lifting weights at the gym) but no
matter how hard you try you can’t raise it up
anywhere near the light — it’s no small thing
and it doesn’t go away, keeps you coming back
if only to look in, pull ineffectually at the ropes.
Sometimes it’s all you can stand, people telling you
to have a nice day when there’s this ongoing emergency,
this failing rescue operation and you feel even worse
when you actually do have an okay day.
Maybe you signed a petition, remembered to take the meat
out of the freezer, cleverly waited for the emptier bus
you spied right behind the crowded one in front,
ate ice cream … After all, the psyche is resilient, is all
too willing to provide the proper equipment — shovel,
rake, dirt, whatever it takes — to fill in, smooth over
this kind of gaping safety violation. It knows all
about compensation, not to mention there are substances
to abuse, nervous disorders, the yawning mouth of depression …
The point is you can get help for these things,
once you’ve covered the wound, so to speak.
Go on, use what tools you’re offered. There’re even gloves
to protect your hands in the process of burying alive
this so called gift of yours. Think about it, it’s time
to move on, it’s what people do, they have good jobs,
they raise their kids, tour ruins of ancient civilizations.
If you only knew how many are in the same shoes.
Cut your hair or grow it out, buy something you think
you can/can’t afford or, and here’s the kicker,
become spiritual, there you go — anything but this coming
back to the same place, it’s not like you’re getting any
younger and God knows it’s a long drop, what if you
lose your balance and fall in, where will you be then?

Dream of the People with Broken Hands

It’s not only their hands flopping this way
and that in uncertain hellos or goodbyes
but their dissonant violins and the way
they drink from leaky cups, eat and dance
on busted tables and with broken hearts
love in stops and starts on collapsed beds.
They spend their days endlessly repairing
the broken homes they all come from.
Nights are full of broken sleep so they might
as well get up to check what piece of moon
is missing. Their church, which kept
breaking into smaller and smaller sects,
disappeared altogether; now they worship
lightning for the way it cracks the sky in half.
They are a hearty lot, these broken-handed folk.
When it comes to settling down
and raising families they head straight
for the fault lines, ready for that deep
down shift followed by a sudden
rumbling chain of events. “Such is life,”
they say in the face of accruing fissures
as grounds they knew separate
from rock solid marriages. That’s how
come they love the world — because
it’s fractured and needs mending,
especially if no one gets around to it.

Street Shoe With Variations

“Beloved be the one with bedbugs,
the one who wears a torn shoe in the rain …”

— Cesar Vallejo

Lucky you, you get to read
about a single white shoe
abandoned at the corner
of Windemere and Vine —
useless without its mate unless
you’re missing a foot too —
Chances are good, thank goodness,
no one’s coming back for it (not
with that hole at the little toe).
Hope no one removes it
out of some destructive instinct
for tidiness. The street needs it;
I, being needy, need it.
I wouldn’t mind running into it
again, not on purpose but, say,
some Wednesday late afternoon
I’m thinking if I can get to
the dry cleaner before it closes
or what you or I should or
shouldn’t have said and voila!
there’s that white shoe in nearly
the same spot. Only now, perhaps
a leaf is caught in its throat
or a driving rain edges it
toward what I imagine
having no future looks like —
a bleakness so seductive
I’d have to stop in my tracks,
snap a mental picture of this
sodden icon of despair flattened
by how many tires turning right
no doubt on red until like some
poor soul in a balcony-ledge-trance,
deaf to sirens and the gathering
crowd, reluctantly steps inside, so
would I fall back into pedestrian stride,
my new life before me ballasted
by an even fiercer solitude.


Okay, so now it can’t be mended. It’s something
we just have to stand on different sides of —
no reason not to carry on. We can wave and smile
at each other across the way, yell, make plans

and apologies, fill it with our tears to make a nice river
between us. It’s just a matter of sound footing now.
No one has to fall in if we’re careful —
crack a rib or drown — if we’re careful.

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