Poetry / Poets / Writers / Writing

Sneezing while driving – by Jay Sizemore

There’s a bundle of beige carpet
in the middle of the road
slumped in a heap like a dead dog,
maybe a Golden Retriever
minus the blood and entrails,
sad, I think
until I pass and see the rubber
bottom and frayed ends
of razor cut cloth,
a strange form of road kill
that never breathed
but tasted the smoke
of countless cigarettes,
never felt thirst
creep like cotton
into the back of a throat
but drank more sips of wine
or Kool-Aid
than I have had girlfriends.

Dogs sweat through their tongues.
Carpet doesn’t sweat
or have a tongue
or the ability to sneeze.
I can’t sneeze with my eyes open,
no one can,
it’s a natural instinct
to protect against a globe luxation
or an eyeball out of its socket,
which is why I always
have this pang of irrational fear
when I have to sneeze
while driving
because I have been told
by Jim Morrison
to keep my eyes on the road
and my hands upon the wheel
and every time I close my eyes
I cease to exist
in someone else’s mind
and maybe that person is driving

a blue Lincoln Continental
with a spider web crack in the windshield
and they’re staring more
at the lifeless hulk of carpet
that never had a name like Polonius
and never heard that name called from a front porch
by a young girl with braided hair
carrying a steel bowl of Purina
in the silhouette of the sun
than they are at the road
when I reopen my eyes
and re-enter the plane of existence.
It’s a tragic miscommunication
like the thought
that a caged bird can sing.

Caged birds don’t sing,
they scream for help,
but the only voices they have
are ones perceived as musical
by human ears,
its desperate cries of pain and longing
are lost in translation
to sounds
that remind listeners
of peaceful walks down forest paths
beneath a canopy of leaves
and sun-spotted shadows,
with voices of mothers and lovers
echoing through trees
calling them back home,
to a perfect world
where every house has a front porch
every floor has a carpet
and every pet has a name.

Jay Sizemore is Associate Poetry Editor for Mojave River Review. He writes poetry and short fiction that offends his family. He is way behind on reading the classics. His work has appeared in places like Words Dance, Red River Review, Black Heart Magazine, and Prick of the Spindle. He currently lives in Nashville, TN, home of the death of modern music.


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