OXIDANT | ENGINE : Issue 5
Rob Wilson Engle
THE WAY YOU LEAVE IS A KIND OF STAYING
You dance and retch like polygons of morning light.
If you were to unfurl in front of me surely my stomach
couldn’t contain the vastness of those acres.
Right now someone is leaving someone else
to half-paid rent and five hundred tiny paper cranes.
How often do you demand I dream of wolves?
They bare their teeth and I bare them back.
For you it’s not enough these canines assemble
faster on our doorstep. Then at the foot of the bed.
Yesterday your mouth was a poem and mine a millstone
that ground away at your aubade. What about
the apex of night makes us move against each other?
Brings the quiet panic? The sheep come submissively
from beyond the horizon and what ends up mattering
is our placement of hands, the pressure applied
with the heel of each finger. Tonight I take the side of the bed
not against the wall.
PORTRAIT OF A GLACIER
When wolves begin emerging from the clinical teeth of the Pacific
you become a long drive to Vermont. I become
some type of deciduous tree and you say it’s only sixteen hours.
I put on shoes and say I’m going out
because I literally like to run from my problems. Later when everything
is like a surface you say there’s time, if we leave now.
100 yards from the county line and we have forgotten why we’re laughing.
You drink tea and I drink coffee, barefoot on the linoleum.
It always seems so strangely vital. You kiss me
and suddenly someone walks in with a case of his
parents’ homemade Merlot.
The others all
devour us with their saucer eyes. Look at us,
all the ways we are so far from running dry!
If we were to wake up in the morning
and there was blood in the Yukon,
I’d say it’s OK.
Go back to bed,
we’ll probably just
kill another squirrel
I think I am
the end of it all.
All the lovers
in their porcelain tubs.
BASELINE // FLATLINE
I take a trip into the mountains
but forget to open myself to awe
Instead, I open myself starting with my left ear
peel it back
around my head
so the wind can flow freely
into my thoughts
which are often about
my failure to comply
with the chemicals in my brain
Making your body feel good
is a harder task
with someone else in the room
I want to be humbled
by a quick black burning
on the back of my neck
a woman with a flower
falling into the bed of another man
is one way to achieve urgency
Often I keep my thoughts
until I have a chance
to locate a carcass and scream into its
warm black vessel
which makes me worry
I am not a hero
that this poem
has already reached its foregone conclusion
I miss my friends who make
with their mouths and hands.
I have to make my own beauty now
with the crow I carry in my throat.
I walk into the forgiving silence
of this landscape
to leave with a canary.
Rob Wilson Engle is an editor and personal trainer. A graduate of Marshall University, Rob lives in Brooklyn and works at the public relations firm Edelman. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in DIAGRAM, Reality Beach, Profane, Phantom and elsewhere.