gutterball

by Brenda Morisse
Wild Poetry Forum
Third Place, March 2018
Judged by C. Wade Bentley


With a roll of their eyes, they sandbag my unruly halo, caution to quit
glowing and start bowling, to change into sensible shoes. Glide.
They’re all strikes and girdles.
One-two-three swing. Drop and spin. Pray for me.

I preach scraps of the orange and violet sunset, even though the team
wants legible print. If only we’d learned another craft. Taken up bookkeeping,
added real numbers and then subtracted them in black on white unlined.

They’re convinced that my game has the wrong split and scold God to open
another hand, but he’s content to hoard the secret in mine.
So, I count fingers and multiply the treaties, divide by divorces.
What’s left is the raft for our troubles.

I release my grip and down a few with the pompadour from the next alley,
pass him a loosie as I toy with my gold-plated bangles and notorious snake pin.
I remind him about the anniversary of his second chance.

He’s a homeless dancer and origami artist, sways heel to toe, a racket of clicks,
then folds into the bend of my knee. In the rush towards the gutter,
the updraft has emptied my habit. I glance down at his attention.
Curbs surround the lane. Curbs and parking meters. Right turns. Time.

We follow the yellow line but always end up in the kitchen baking the gooey pies
frosted with sweet butter. We’ve choked down twenty pounds in the last month
but it’s better than shooting rocks, they say.

I should have lived by the brook. Picked dandelions, made tea.
Now we weigh into the bottom of Mama’s bureau,
wallow within the wrinkles of the night
even the openmouthed windows wait to feed below the horizon.

The streetlights make promises. We pass by a church and cross our tees for good luck.
First we move across from the Zoo. Then, further west. Now we’re anchored
in Jersey and posing with photos of our future. We splash tears on our cheekbones,
carve grooves where there ought to be stains.


This poem is a rollicking ride, and it requires one to roll with it and not worry about staying within the lanes. It’s as if it had been filmed with a hand-held camera, cutting from shot to shot before we can get comfortable. This poet does not wear sensible shoes. --C. Wade Bentley

  • January 2019 Winners

    • First Place

      How the Wind Works
      by Alison Armstrong-Webber
      The Waters

      Second Place

      Sleep Walker
      by Brenda Levy Tate
      PenShells

      Third Place

      The Woman Who Grew up in My House Finds Me on Facebook and Comes to Take a Look Around
      by Antonia Clark
      The Waters

  • December 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      Tires
      by Kenny A. Chaffin
      Babilu

      Second Place

      Scouring Pots While the World Ends
      by Elizabeth Koopman
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      Poetry in the Cultural Revolution
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Waters