“Ghost Rock” by Alex Lemon

Yesterday I started zooming around Alex Lemon’s 2014 poetry collection The Wish Book.  The first section gives a funny and exacting glimpse into the intimacies of fatherhood. Other than the lines “I woke up with good vibes, thinking/ Today was still going to be/ A good day” & “His shallow breathes/ Into me as he rocks/ A clockwise circle, eyelids tremoring/ with white-hot dreams” my favorite poem (so far) from The Wish Book was “Ghost Rock.”

Oh there are so many

Mixed signals in this life —

this way, highway, that

Half, no way, not even

Halfway. The next day

Is all Beep. Bop. Boop.

Can you hear me

Now, Motherfucker?

But you & I are both lost,

O so lost. At night, God,

Or some other blowhard,

Whispered in my dreams,

if you love danger you’ll die 

By it, so I stopped playing tag

with bottle rockets & Roman

Candles. The fourth-story

Window was no longer an option

On the list of things I want

To leap out of before I die.

But I can’t help it — I had to

Smash through the sliding

Door & pose like the Heisman

Trophy to show all the people

At my birthday party that glass

& I are pretty much the same

Thing. It’s made me think

About it a bit more. Both Billy Joel & Iron Maiden —

Even that one-armed drummer

From Def Leppard–say only

The good die young, right?

So, what about being a bit

Of both? Containing more

Than they want me to?

I know, I know, who do I

Think I am? I can hardly

Fathom the one thing I want

To know: when I flatten a hand

against my sleeping boy’s belly

Why do I feel a tiny paradise howling

Through my ribs? The way we fawn over

The untarnished beauty of skin

Is precious & cancerous, I suppose.

What is he, but a pulsing sack

Of wheeze? Help me, please.

Tell me, please. I will beg.

What is this rough magic

That fills me, this blaze

That keeps pushing us on?


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