Steve Evans. Oteeyho Iro. Charles Haddox. Zama Madinana. Taylor Graham. Natalie Harris-Spencer. Jason Lobell. Maggie Yang. Aaron Weinzapfel. Meredith Wadley. Asma Al-Masyabi. Linda Neal. Shilo Niziolek. David A. Porter.
Daniel Romo‘smost recent book is Apologies in Reverse (FutureCycle Press 2019). He holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Queens University of Charlotte, and he lives and teaches in Long Beach, CA.
WHAT YOU WOULDN'T BELIEVE
Tonight while reading my students’ homework I learned
whales can get sunburned, and the average person will
spend six months of their life waiting for red lights to turn green,
and during this election season it’s difficult to distinguish
just exactly what are the facts and whose opinions mean most
to voters who don’t even know the inventor of the Frisbee
was actually turned into a Frisbee, himself, after he died.
Most of the kids’ grades are low and just because I’m their
favorite teacher doesn’t guarantee a free pass, although
movie trailers originally played after the movie so perhaps
I should consider giving credit before their work is even due.
I know I will not vote for the candidate who has told more than
20,000 factchecked lies in the time it takes for a school year to
begin— and end— and begin again, but I didn’t know Scotland
has 421 words for snow and maybe if Arturo had confessed,
“I’m sorry, Mr. Romo. My paper got lost in a January flindrikin
and I just couldn’t seem to find it after shoveling the driveway,”
I would be more understanding in its absence.
The CIA has its own Starbucks, but the baristas don’t write
customers’ names on the cups and after work I labor over
writing poems so I can appreciate anonymity in the name of
protecting one’s personal and work life all in one.
But damnit if it isn’t nice to be recognized for what you do,
to be saluted for giving all you got even when you’re not certain
you possessed very much to begin with.
Tomorrow I will grade some more papers and even though I teach
English and not Biology, I might start a unit called Auditory Benevolence
in which I tell the kids to close their eyes and place
a hand over their chests because if they listen hard enough, they can
hear a blue whale’s heartbeat from two miles away, and if he can be
that big and passionate about navigating through life,
so can we all.
I walked the perimeter of the furniture store
looking for a couch I already knew I wouldn’t buy
due to bad reviews I’d read online,
but I was already in the parking lot
and too often convenience
The saleswoman told me,
That was fast, right before I exited,
and if I’d have been introspective enough
I would’ve responded,
That’s what happens when you realize you deserve
greater than upholstery that will cave in on you when
you need a soft spot to rest more so than ever.
If only it were that easy to move in, around,
and back out of the lives of the ones we thought
were there for the betterment of our buoyancy,
but who actually allowed us to sink even deeper
Funny how the plot of the movie I just saw about time travel
was too confusing to follow,
however maybe that’s the point,
not being able to retrace steps so you can forget
the way back to where it was
you were never meant to repair.
It’s as if the algorithms lined up to do—
something or other, and you were spared
to have been told nothing by your future self
that could alter the course of a purchase
you had to make
just so your words
could warn others.
The second baseman can no longer make
a simple throw to first
without bouncing the ball in the dirt
or chucking it in either direction down the line,
as if he can’t remember the mechanics of the relationship
between father and son and their front yard
in the summers.
The manager tells his guy to just play and relax whenever
his nerves hijack his talent
because overthinking has killed many a mood,
and a career.
Some claim it’s psychological,
that the brain ignores the trajectory of muscle memory
and no matter how many extra pre-game grounders
the player takes, the result will be the same,
because despite our best intentions,
the mistakes we make in our lives are simply recorded as
errors in any box score.
Sometimes when the ball is hit to me,
a sharp liner out to left field,
I freeze when I know my wife is upset
because I’m unsure what to say,
and my efforts at consolation end in a soft lob
that doesn’t nearly reach her
or a wayward rocket that hits her in the gut,
too hot for her to possibly handle.
We become scared to attempt the simple throws
when we forget the fundamentals,
when our minds and bodies convince each other
they aren’t on the same team and
the connection between the two is as distant as
hapless player and die-hard fan
screaming at the TV after yet
The second baseman,
the newlywed husband,
the grizzled manager who knows from experience,
sometimes you just gotta ride it out,
let the ball go where it may
understanding there’s always another season for redemption
just waiting on the next play.
What intrigues me most on my stroll around the park
is the group of geriatrics doing tai chi,
brittle limbs dancing in tune to a slow-motion
I admire their activity in a world of comfort which I imagine
helps them balance out the yin and yang of their golden years
filled with moments of tarnishment
and a longevity of luster.
But I wonder what happens when they die,
and if they’re replaced by a younger, sprier senior,
or if that spot remains empty in tribute to a body
that stayed in motion up until the moment
I’ve reached an age where my spine is no longer
always aligned with the actions of my body,
and my 40s is a race between preventing and treating
lower back pain, and a weekly trip to the chiropractor
is as satisfying as the well-done red meat I ate last night,
as well as several nights before, which I know
my doctor will politely point out at
my next checkup.
But what’s a life without treating yourself for the
victories that may not have ever even seemed like
potential battles, yet now present themselves each day,
such as nagging indigestion
or a stubborn lumbar?
How many meals of baked potatoes and steak has the
woman in the wheelchair waving her arms
like they’re taming the wind
eaten while not regretting
the contents of her menu?
I hope I’m able to stand in a circle of my peers and
practice an ancient martial art during my final days
as a way to tell my body,
Thanks for the protection, but it’s now okay
to let go.