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WRONG ABOUT THAT by Paul Beilstein

I thought my sadness was a moron’s elbow. Thought I could offer it a salve, or the comfort of a well-worn arm-chair. I thought I could buy a corduroy shirt and wash it the exact right number of times.

I thought my sadness was a moron’s elbow.
Thought I could offer it a salve,
or the comfort of a well-worn arm-chair.
I thought I could buy a corduroy shirt
and wash it the exact right number of times.
I hope you have better ideas about yours.
Maybe yours is the referee
of the driveway free-throw drill
I practiced evenings after dad’s no-chop dinners.
Back then, he had a rule for keeping things simple,
but lately I’ve seen him take knife to carrot,
tomato. Maybe yours is the referee,
who helped me count how many
out of one hundred I had made.
It is hard to make friends with the pinstriped,
but I have seen signs on television.
Maybe your sadness is the small belly
peeking through the misty t-shirt
of the early morning jogger, increasingly
invisible to all but the most unkind.
Maybe you are the master of sadness and yours
is the beagle’s drooped ears,
or the quadriceps of the bicycle commuter,
or the tear in the beagle’s owner’s tights,
which must be too comfortable to discard
for such a slight disfigurement.
After each miss, the referee stood under the hoop
unwilling to chase the ball, but after a make,
he gathered it, spun it in his hands as if
examining it for disqualifying flaws,
then snapped a chest pass back to me
with the form my youth team’s coach
must have dreamt of while his wife sat up
watching him whimper and squirm.
I caught the ball, with a developing sense
that something was horribly wrong.
I focused, made eight in a row.
I wanted to know more.

 

 

Issue 5 Contents                                       NEXT: Two Poems by Jane Wong

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About Paul Beilstein

Paul Beilstein
Paul Beilstein was born in Illinois and received a BA in Rhetoric from the University of Illinois. He received an MFA in English from the University of California, Irvine, then moved to Oregon with his wife, Shereen. He has taught English composition and poetry writing for ten years, and will be starting a PhD program in Writing Studies at the University of Illinois in Fall 2014.