Gratitude Journal

Kamal E. Kimball
| poetry


At the town council meeting, they want to hold the sun
accountable for night. Yes, let’s invent a better fence. Yes, let’s
deem the teens gliomas on society. Who stole the bulbs
from the streetlamps? Who sold this story to the press?
Meanwhile, I hide out behind the bleachers, addled
on ditchweed, trying to feel briefly young. Even when I work
to be the best bystander, stray dogs paw at my window
and the man at the off-ramp holds his sign a little higher.
It says really? It doesn’t say apoplectic, not even regretful.
I keep trying to be a decent citizen or something
but every morning is a slab of gristle, humming
with industrial necessity. I was told to practice caring
for myself. Well, I do have this Carmexed mouth, this need
to eat. With these two free hands, I do plan to take
whatever isn’t bolted down. But all I tend to get
is unplanned pulp, wet phone books from the porch, bills
that cut themselves inside my mailbox like a recursive oubliette
and yet the zeroes never multiply for me. Zero is by far the most
stubborn number. The twentieth century was supposed to be
magic—a big trick with a bigger reveal, a fine silk scarf of never
-ending plenty that everyone could wear. But who is left to buy
the world a Coke? Who broke the standing mirror to smithereens?
So yeah, it kinda sucks. They plumbed the whole place down
to the carbonic core, tore the diamonds from the mantle
and then they had the balls to close the cabaret, declare
bankruptcy, chuck all our shimmer in the ditch.
When I stagger by, high on table wine, I see my teeth
in the plate glass, red and dulled to bovine flats.
Look at me, cravat-less, with sooted eyebrows and a family
of holes in my best boots. I called and left a message at the French spot
with the fresh bread. They’re taking reservations for tomorrow,
running them through a woodchipper. I can’t get in
without a jacket, a mask of polished brass, a gun of numbing steel.
So here, this will have to do. I fished it from the bin for you.

Kamal E. Kimball is an Ohio poet. On the editorial team for Muzzle Magazine, her work has been published or is forthcoming in Crazyhorse, Sweet, New South, Phoebe, Hobart, Juked, Cloudbank, Forklift, Ohio, and elsewhere. She teaches English at The Ohio State University.

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