Everyone I hated was named Joan

or some variation thereof, and the sky

was twice as bold. The historical mattress

 

museum boomed. You could even bring

frozen custard in there, and maybe

a man with a leather hat

 

would chase the kids a little.

My man was around ten feet tall

but still didn’t have a proper job, other

 

than holding down a bar stool.

He was so good at it they gave him

the margarine halo of a canister lamp,

 

found extra sugar packets to level

his favorite table. My favorite mattress

was the one where James Brown

 

convinced himself that velour

was what ridged the circumference

of a frozen orange. My man turned into

 

a hideaway filled with perforated

finch wings and baseball cards signed by

a priest. He wore one suspender

 

like in a gold rush jailhouse.

They wouldn’t let the felons sleep

on mattresses with springs, obviously.

 

The first time they booked him

somebody used an extra vigorous hose

because my man looked exhumed,

 

too abused to have been ransacked

by a class full of first-years.

Guards avalanched him with powder.

 

 

One day he swallowed a cleaner

meant only for pewter spoons or dice.

It took me hours to wash him out.

 

His feet hung so far off the edge

of the bed. A bat seizured against cups

in the kitchen. His head was split

 

like he was some kind of latter day

Lincoln. I wanted to wrap him

in the flag of his republic.

 

 

 

Biddinger-Cover-Sunny-Place-250x386Mary Biddinger’s newest poetry collection, A Sunny Place with Adequate Water, will be published by Black Lawrence Press in May 2014. Her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in CrazyhorseGuernicaGulf CoastDenver QuarterlyPleiades, and Sou’wester, among others. She teaches poetry writing and literature at the University of Akron, where she edits Barn Owl Reviewand the Akron Series in Poetry.

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