Upon Submission

By Brett Kell

Something tells me I don’t have a chance –
their names are the throb & crack of thunder
and I, a child.
Poets get put up to this, assigned random muses
and sent off to cultivate metaphor
growing wild in fields like hollyhock.

We broker our delicate gifts for deals
inked in caffeinated blood
and fortify against rejection despite thin skin containing not
a superstructure and assorted thrusting & filtering tools,
but tapioca or creamed spinach.

I must write through this, I think,
as they surely must have written through
when faced with the specter of strange company.

Their names are fat with cortisone, their tongues
shaped perfectly, able
to rumba and to tango and to waltz
in a way mine cannot, in a way that has
joie de vivre and mouth feel.

Perhaps the water is good where they are, rich
with language by the parts per million. Perhaps
their streets are lined with great oak.

I will be someday what they are. Perhaps I am
already more than their former selves,
a sum indivisible.
Me, a one-off, accidental quotient, standard-bearer,
pearlescent bauble, catalogue of ellipses, a boomerang,
inimitable, cacophonous, telekinetic, beseeching.

I may just write myself into their company,
walk among them shaking hands and harrumphing at their
supple dynasties, my grip criss-crossing the tributaries of their palms
as if they were what’s left of a mighty river,
until my name becomes their alphabet,
its splash on the page an ocean swell of misgiving,
of guess-again,
until the day they must write this very poem about me.


Brett Kell has contributed to numerous publications over a 20-year career as a communications professional and freelance writer. His poems have appeared in Emergency Almanac, KNOCK, Paj Ntaub Voice, Clare, Bakka, and elsewhere, and he is co-founder of the undergraduate literary journal Furrow at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In his spare time, he nurtures obsessions with wristwatches, whiskey, and sneakers.


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