May I Have Your Attention, Please?
For once there’s a tree over there
that looks overexerted, yellowed
in the distance, living proof
there’s nothing so simple
about a summer day. But I’m a child, a light
sweater, a birthday party
in a dark bedroom.
At the magic show she says to the audience,
I need someone to come up and volunteer
to look tough, pretend
to be a good listener.
Of course this is shorthand for emotion.
And the shorthand for emotion
and the shorthand for metaphor is emotional
distance, like the crying babysitter
saying nevermind over and over
to the sleeping baby.
Jordan Stempleman is the author of eight collections of poetry including Wallop and No, Not Today (Magic Helicopter Press). He co-edits The Continental Review, serves as the faculty editor for Sprung Formal and curates A Common Sense Reading Series.