Nebraska Center for Writers

by Brian E Bengtson

Omaha is muted.
Three record-breaking
snowfalls have frayed
the edges like a piece
of cheesecloth
on a camera lens.

I am a blur.
My eyes watch
every step like the ice
is a schoolyard bully,
waiting to trip my feet
and laugh as I fall.

Omaha is cold.
Double-digit below-zero
windchills empty the streets,
like an ocean of frost
has wiped the city clean
and everyone went to higher ground.

I am a shiver.
My body surrenders
like a great struggle
has finally ended, or some torture
has, at last, hit its mark.
My many layers of clothes
disappear in the howling wind.

Copyright © 2004
by Brian E Bengtson

by Brian E Bengtson

The eyes never seem to make it
to my face as I join them
on the quarterly march to a room,
or a paper-covered table, or
the chair made to help with the flow,
but I don't see them either.

A past that hiccups at me, and
fumbles for an apology as the scenes
are laid out for me again,
like my favorite Sunday funnie, or
the lights from the city on my bus ride home.

The men with the newly-minted opening lines, and
the boys who needed prodding, the
guys who just guessed right, or the ones
who I decided were just for not having
to go home alone, recite their names in the back
of my head as I make the fist, and turn away.

Curtains scraping on the floor
excuse themselves for slamming me back
to that first gloryhole, the first wistful
taking in of anxious breath, as I
wish for the full picture on the other side.

I'm eight and a half, again,
praying to a God to prove that he's around,
and make the toy in my pocket disappear.
I look at my chart,
avert my gaze, and wonder if I
just might have left it outside.

Copyright © 2004
by Brian E Bengtson

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