Today's poem is by Joshua Poteat

from Replica of the Sears, Roebuck & Co. Catalogue, Fall 1900

Department of Telescopes

It seemed like suffering, or a lesser form of anguish,

though I'm not sure where it comes from,

watching the possum choose an eggshell

from the garbage can, there in the night orchard

of this minor city, the streetlight's hum so peculiar,

clumsy nest bright above the alley. I knew right then

the earth loved it more than me. A city possum,

no "o," no rat, two babies asleep on its back

and a hunger shot through with fear, with purpose.

In the awkwardness of its living, I feared the city

would abandon me. The possum, too.

I had grown accustomed to its visits.

It lived under the abandoned house down the street,

where the prostitute's body was found last winter,

where the walls grow gentle with rot, a gentleness

gone wrong, harm and permanence, whole and flaw.

Everything is sacrificed to something. To fill the spaces,

I guess. Ash in the trees, then the two stars come out,

the only ones the city allows, little-blue-star-pale-in-its-cups,


The city has two mouths, the river and the sky,

both brown in the darkness, and open.

More than likely, there is a place inside the body

that is not afraid, but I haven't found it yet,

there is no returning. The hills bear down.

The possum is not jealous, moves slow

through the walls. We can lie down in our emptiness.

Copyright © 2009 Joshua Poteat All rights reserved
from Gulf Coast
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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