Two poems by Christian Anton Gerard
- The courage to change the things I can
The middle ground is the fear Christian faces
in her eyes when in the afternoon he sees himself
there in those green irises in their red bed in their
red room. She has taught him to hold red on his tongue,
his teeth, the cliffs from which he’s jumped so many times
like the man who jumped from Bill Wilson’s second story
window cause he couldn’t face himself—a mattress afire
falling in the night—a different conception of shooting star.
In the middle ground, Christian is a burning mattress
heart-brain with a copper pipe in its embers—Aurora
Borealis held in his skull’s silver chalice, and the broken
owning his image in her eyes.
My brain is broken
compared to most of my readers. This is neither self-
deprecation nor self-pity’s well, reader. This is me
reading too, these words are seventeen generals meeting
in the middle of seventeen thousand slain women and men
saying goodbye to this life on grass, guns, the legs, hips, chests
of friends and enemies, many of whom are both.
If the generals do it right, they will want
to say peace can be possible on this place long as they can,
but they’ll be able to agree there’s only this grass today.
Perhaps there’s only today—seventeen thousand souls
proving all their fears. How could they all fall on their own
swords gleaming like their love’s eyes, admitting
there’s no proof the sun will rise if night’s not run through.
There’s always a point, sharp as a hellhound’s canines
and the point, like staring at a single ember, can and will
run riot through my sternum, between my lungs
and show itself where my latissimus dorsi meet—
my own middle ground. I am, will be,
like the sword in the stone, except you will not see a hilt
nor a handle. Those are buried beneath me. But you
will see the point and know if you grab at it, blood
will run from your hands. You will look at them, wonder
why on earth? I have asked myself the same.
Let’s take the back roads, my wife says,
so we can see something beautiful. “Beauty,”
says Sir Joshua Reynolds, “is for anyone who seeks
a serious road, not just aesthetes.” I’m never enough
over myself enough to see outside the white lines.
We’ve got this time together, my wife says, can’t we enjoy it?
On the back roads, in my mind we’re in a black hole,
and we could have been there an hour ago. If only. As much
as I look in the rearview, you’d think I could see myself
the way she sees me. Maybe then I’d understand
I’m not the complicated man I want to be, believing
travel’s never easy, imagining myself a man ragged
walking on the roadside and a man riding ragged
in my F-150’s comfort, checking the clock, not seeing
the herd of black bears in my periphery is actually
black angus littering the pastoral hillside.
I should spend more time reading Chaucer,
Wordsworth who, along with my wife, see the vernacular
in being where you are, who believe the getting there
is there. How I have separated travel and travelling.
At a Midwest nowhere crossroads, I’m laying on the horn,
screaming for an unseen thing to turn
in front of me. Permission’s right of way
I can’t imagine or maybe that I won’t.
Christian Anton Gerard‘s first book of poems is Wilmot Here, Collect For Stella (WordTech, CW Books imprint, 2014). He’s received Pushcart Prize nominations, scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and an Academy of American Poets Prize. Some of his recent poems appear or are forthcoming in storySouth, Post Road, Diode, Pank, Orion, Smartish Pace, B-O-D-Y, The Rumpus, and The Journal. He holds a Ph.D in English from the University of Tennessee and currently lives in Fort Smith, AR, where he’s an Assistant Professor of English, Rhetoric, and Writing at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith.
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