Three Poems (#2) – Wil Gibson

bedroom-closet


Six on seven of eight
(for Nick Fox)

i. She said The only way out is south and 
I tried to pretend it was a metaphor not a 
factual statement. I am uncomfortable with 
these kinds of factual statements that work 
as well or better when used as metaphors.  

ii. Poets are lazy novelists who cut 
themselves short and make the reader 
tell the story on their own. Novelists 
are lazy poets who over explain the 
story and say and, so, but, and because 
too much.  I could have just said poets 
are lazy novelists and novelists are poets, 
but I am a lazy poet who says and, so, 
but, and because too much. 

iii. I am told that short story writers 
are patient people. That seems like 
a contradiction, although, I am not 
a good short story writer or a good 
patient people, so maybe I just do
not have accurate information 

iv. I used to think that some people 
spelled their names oddly, but it was their 
name, so they could spell it however they 
wish. Today I met a person named Craig. 
It was spelled with a Y… like Crayg. 
No. 
Just. 
No.

v. The last time I remember truly 
liking myself, each poem I wrote 
was a limp branch over a dusty old
Oklahoma red dirt driveway. The 
branches broke like the storm did. 
I got to the end of the road before 
the last Lacebark Elm died. The 
dried leaves fell like dried tears. 
I have not stopped moving since 
the limbs snapped. I make jokes
in the face of these thunderstorms
that roll after me like a wave of nausea. 

vi. When some snakes swallow, they 
stare directly up and then wiggle the 
food down to make sure they do not 
choke. After that they don’t eat again 
for up to four entire weeks. I am still
uncomfortable with these kinds of 
factual statements that work as well 
or better when used as metaphors.



Hank

The sweat rolled to his elbow. Paused 
for effect at the point and dripped slow 
as night to the ground. This happened 
every few minutes, then every few seconds, 
then became a steady drip...drip...drip...drip. 

When the salty water fell, the earth shook beneath 
his feet with a thunder gods get jealous of, but all 
gods are angry or jealous. He never really liked this 
kind of work. Too forced; too fake. His hands were 
the size full lunchboxes, heavy as third grade textbooks. 

He was more than human or animal of any kind. He 
stopped short of talking several times. Held his words 
like the coffee mug or the cigarette in his hands at 
breaktime. He was all bent from the bottom up, 
broken from his chest to his neck. His back was 
weak, but hadn’t busted yet. Everyone has always 
thought he was so strong. 

He couldn’t remember the last time he read anything 
other than an instruction manual, knew it had something 
to do with passion. Couldn’t remember where he put the 
book, says it must have burned up when he still had some 
fire in his belly. Hadn’t seen any book in years. He remembered 
every book he had ever read, but couldn’t recall who wrote it.  

I only read the one, something about rats or mice, and how 
men think killing can be compassionate. I didn’t like the way 
it sat in my stomach, he said, so I didn’t bother to do it again.



To the monster in my closet

When my parents and I moved, I pretended 
like it was to get away from you. My mother 

told me I could never outrun a nightmare. I 
was not surprised when you followed me. 

The midnight visions of your vibrant 
eyeless corpse came ever closer. You

were always in or near my head. I moved 
my bed in front of the closet you lived in, 

and it kept you trapped. For a while. Your 
mealworm body never touched me again. 

I never felt your fifty tiny fingers on my flesh 
anymore, but you have been in every panicked 

moment for more than a generation. You 
have not ended the world like that ghost 

busted dream told me you would. These days, 
when I roll into sleep, my nightmares hold hands 

with ancestors and close my bedroom 
windows with my teeth. I see you slink 

into every background, and sink into 
every bit of my self doubt. You have no 

power now. I have memorized you, and 
know the boy sized box to keep you in. 
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About Wil Gibson


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