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

tomorrow.

__

I think I am

right about

the end of it all.

 

All the lovers

cling tight

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

                        to myself

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

            beautiful sentences

                                    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.