Mark DeFoe (PhD, U of Denver) is the author of Bringing Home Breakfast and Palmate and has published in Poetry, Kenyan Review, North American Review, Paris Review, Sewanee Review, Witness, and Prairie Schooner.
Our Dearest Friends
They dwell in the clouds of our fondness, hiding
little lies in their pockets. Don't make them hold out
their hands like shamed children. Behind a door
with a gold star they sit, voices opaque.
By what evolution, mutants climbing
from the shallows of our unknowing: ant
with sloth's mind? lamb with hyena's cackle?
hippo, that writhes like a mink? What bottomless
pools in deep woods? What deserts stretching empty?
We have dubbed them such alluring Einsteins,
chatty Garbos, svelte Lincolns, flinty-eyed
Mother Teresas. Such mimes, such harlequins,
such heroes leaping from their play to ours,
mouthing for love our unspeakable lines.
Wheel-racked, earth wheels beneath my wheels and I bore
off the map. Hitchhikers loom. Their thumbs whine;
their shabby jerseys keep their own sad score—
born to lose, born to lose this many times.
I teeter sleep's edge, arrowing through hamlet
and burg. Grainy reruns of scenery drain
past my vision, and Life, starring regret
and compromise, keeps looping through my brain.
Out there, beyond color, sound unravels.
Millions of fog droplets slur my headlights.
Hope is odometer. God is gas gage.
Twice I drift off the road, spewing gravel.
False morning teases the gullet of night,
and no hunger is fed but numbness and rage.