Poem by Aaron Graham
The wind tongues the kitchen window holes, violently
pounding, like oboes in mezzo-soprano, until all mountain arias are hoarse.
I am Wyoming’s native son, back in captivity
back in his natural habitat.
Seven thousand ft. above sea level I breathe thin air heavily
make love like I rope steer, a bit hard
handle her a bit hard —
loop, secure, turn, flip, circle, and tie-off
rough with rope.
Come morning she’ll have the bite marks she promised to show her friends
to prove she’s in love, just like she said
and love is hard just like her daddy
said and like he still says and
after five wives and a couple double-wides
he ought to know
love is hard, so I leave bite marks in her hand
to feed my appetite.
I’d trade salvation for perdition
and a quarter gram.
In a place so boring even the children are dull
I’d exchange an image of God for the semblance of man
or a golden Dodge Ram
and a quarter gram.
The 2016 Luminaire Award for Best Poetry
We are pleased to announce this poem as a Finalist for the 2016 Luminaire Award for Best Poetry, honoring the independent press’ best poems and hybrid poetry works of the year. The winners are selected by an external panel that judges all pieces blindly and selects the full list of 12 finalists from hundreds of entries. Alternating Current does not determine the final outcome for the judging; the external judges’ decisions are final.
AARON GRAHAM hails from Glenrock, Wyoming, population 1159, which boasts seven bars, six churches, a single 4-way stop sign, and no stoplights. His work explores the relationship of desire, compassion, and violence in combat situations and the resilience, latency, and impact of trauma and moral injury on maritime society. He served as the assistant editor for Squaw Valley Review, is an alumnus of Squaw Valley Writers Workshop and The Ashbury Home School (Hudson), and is a veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq where he served with The Marine Corps’ Human Intelligence and Counterterrorism Task Force Middle East as analyst and linguist. His work has appeared in SAND, The Tishman Review, The East Bay Review, Print Oriented Bastards, Zero-Dark-Thirty, and f(r)iction. His first book, Blood Stripes, was a finalist for Tupelo Press’ 2015 Berkshire Prize, and his poem “Olfaction” won the 2015 Seven Hills Penumbra Poetry Prize.
Originally published on 4/20/16.