THE ADULT TABLE
Copyright © 2018 Tyler Wettig Digital Edition designed by Tom Zimmerman. All poems, concepts, and editing by the author. The author thanks the editors of the following publications, where the poems in this collection first appeared (sometimes in different forms): “New Year’s Eve”: Eunoia Review “Gods and Things,” “The Adult Table,” and “Tundra Spiritual”: The Huron River Review “I Miss the Reno Skyline”: The Journey: A WCC Poetry Club/Bailey Library Anthology “Still Time for Tahiti”: Michigan’s Best Emerging Poets “Your Mother in Your Lover’s Eyes” and “Lourdes”: Neologism “Sonnet for the Unmarried” and “Man on Fire II”: Verse-Virtual See page 19 for further acknowledgements.
Tyler Wettig resides in Ypsilanti, Michigan, where he attends Eastern Michigan University. Tyler’s website: https://www.tylerwettig.wordpress.com
The Adult Table Contents I Miss the Reno Skyline Sonnet for the Unmarried Your Mother in Your Loverâ€™s Eyes Lourdes Gods and Things Tundra Spiritual The Adult Table New Yearâ€™s Eve Man on Fire II Still Time for Tahiti
Do not wait for the last judgment. It comes every day. Albert Camus
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4 6 8 9 10 11 12 14 16 17
I Miss the Reno Skyline My morning view is the burnt and bright and haze of last night’s burning sage: no time to waft, so nibble the remnants of the fast food and get in the truck: we’re heading East. Doze through Utah sulfur, wax Fitzgerald through Lovelock: Now there is a woman! But we’re closer to Gethsemane than the Riviera: stuck on the tracks in Wyoming, axle breaks in Iowa. She takes my hand and asks if I believe in God, but I burn like a Buddhist in protest: so scoop me into a cheap urn; I’ll sit on a shelf like my dad. Or just the dashboard. Can’t feel my legs anyway.
Sonnet for the Unmarried It’s Bach on the stereo: Brandenburg Concerto, third movement: I prefer a slower rendition, I remark. But tonight, I like the urgency. Some botched cookies on the dinner table. We scrape the usable parts, nibble the crumbles. She hands me a book of her poetry: I sit, cross-legged on the couch, cat in my lap, thumb through the worn pages. She writes, someday, my prince will come, and the music fades. We’re washing dishes; she’s greying a bit. I excuse myself to the bathroom. The hand-towel says believe, and I do, having just seen the future, as I did.
Your Mother in Your Lover’s Eyes Bleak as Narcissus, I can melt in her like Dali’s watch. The tattooed Bohemian’s hieroglyphs run ramrod like Nazca, and the psych-ward in my dream is just home: she occupies all space like a gaseous plague, and I smell her perfume like dad swore he could. Then I’m awake: exploding head syndrome and sleep paralysis again. The demon is in the doorway, and the alarms that I once sabotaged are going off at once. The altar is a stillborn, and theoretical children that I wrote a novel about are waiting to be abandoned. Don’t marry your mother.
Lourdes My Romantic instincts are Medieval, and I lick every wound but my own. I once told my Sunday school teacher that God is weird, and I was told I needed to bleed in his image. Here, there, now, a hug is my communion, but I can drink the tenors of her trumpet like body and blood. Weâ€™ve only been shoulder-to-shoulder, and if the snow-banks were deeper outside, I could at last hold her hand; but I know a dedication is destined to crash like Beethovenâ€™s Third: just as easily torn up, recycled, rededicated like this poem that is never finished.
Gods and Things Beyond grassy plains through Eden of old, upon the snowy qliphoth, tender and cold. A temple, a spine: elevated, dedicated, aliveâ€” desecrated by Gods and things, where light still basks through crumbled pillars and angelsâ€™ wings.
Tundra Spiritual I lug this manuscript like da Vinci did the Mona Lisa, or Christ the Cross. It’s not my self-portrait, spiritual immolation, circumcision of the past. It’s the annulment of cynical and spiritual, shroud and tomb, of blood and chalice: bled from my mother, obsessed with cemeteries; my father, the stars. Me, in limbo on this earthly tundra, somewhere between nebulae and hades, can still map it with dad’s binoculars, and tombstones I can finger. The moral? I ruminate well on mortality. But of my own? I should be so lucky.
The Adult Table He’s wearing white. I’m sipping Moscato. His steak is medium. Mine is bleeding. Bloodshot. Incarnadine. Call it what it is: a little tough. Wounded animal. Let’s go to Venice, he says, and gives the salad another toss. Then London. If we’re up for it, Denmark. Scotland after. I say that poems, like this one, can come to me like falling stars, rapidly, like the tenor sax droning from the speaker that’s a bit heavy on the legato. He’ll go home soon and hug the cat. Put something a bit slower on. I’ll go do the same.
New Yearâ€™s Eve Tchaikovsky is droning, and the cat is somehow asleep. This dance starts as we did: some discombobulated pirouettes before the shape starts to form. It ripples from her black velvet dress into a vague human motion: running watercolors that spill onto the carpet. Here, we riff on Wilde. Become Michelangelo on the scaffolding. She says that Iâ€™m an illusion but asks me to paint her one. Itâ€™s cold down there, so we find a blanket to share before the zinfandel burns our brains into the new year. The kiss? A faultline in this fractured fairytale, I fear.
Man on Fire II Iâ€™m a late-blooming Buddhist in an abandoned garden: possibility tenderly pruned but so festers like an open wound. I dwell in probabilitiesâ€” every word, a calculation. Every moment, a nimbus: drizzle as we make our way out of the bookstore. My therapist tells me I need to face my ultimate fear. My wife tells me I need to fix my taillight. So let me be abandoned. Half-blind in the dark. I pass a stranded motorist on the way home. I want to pull over to help him, only for him to bludgeon me. Any catharsis to belie this coil, this samsara. Iâ€™d rather have a season in hell.
Still Time for Tahiti She was an earthy girl: hair the color of the playground dirt I once ran my hands through, granulating between my bony fingers like dreams into dust in my world of darkness by which her red sundress could capture me light, photosynthesize our love: blossom, orchid, orchestrate us to Mahlerâ€™s fifth, or perhaps by the wisdom of Bob to which I would ask: so, sad-eyed lady, should I wait? As I tear myself from this nuptial like a rack of ribsâ€” lay this bleeding hunk of meat back over the coals as the sun sets over Tahiti.
Notes and Acknowledgements The photograph that appears below was taken at Traffic Jam & Snug in Detroit, Michigan. Photograph of the author on page 2 by Mary Fraser. Photograph on page 5 by Tom Zimmerman. Back-cover artwork by Anthea Leigh. Additional artwork by India Clark. Cover/book design and all other photographs by the author. The epigraph on page 3 is from The Fall by Albert Camus. The lyrics from lines 9 and 10 in “Still Time for Tahiti” are taken from “Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” by Bob Dylan. Also by Tyler Wettig: Men in Togas Looking at Fruit (Zetataurus, 2016)
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A poetry collection by Tyler Wettig.