Stuck in my brain’s electrical
gelatin, under the weight of what
I’ve carried all these years, I remember
an oak scratching not far from the window
of a lingering thought:

the branches pirouette like a marionette
who can’t stop dancing a ballet
it knows by heart, maybe
a diva has memorized
her aria, the opera is about selling
blunders and loss. Once, I had a friend
who died

having an affair—a lover
shot himself in the chest—three times.
It could have been an overdose, of alcohol or meth,
it could have been a car crash,
a million wrong turns.

The opus of a short life ending
in the calm of a lover’s arms.

There—stuck in my neural net
the drama has no answers for how
turritopsis dohrnii can live forever, or why
a fleeting glimpse of us remains
on a breezy afternoon as if we had been
those lovers sauntering alone
on Okunoshima, the island east of Hiroshima,
the one that holds a history of war
crimes and mustard gas,

to have its beach unscathed
by bleeding blindness,
lucky to be alive

strolling among the throngs 
of large-eared rabbits who hop in front of us
lively as Ebizo Xi dancing
the paths of hanamachi.

Photo by Bruno Kelzer on Unsplash

Bob Haynes

Bob Haynes lives in Seneca Falls, New York. His poems have appeared in North American Review, Nimrod, New Letters, Poetry Northwest, Rattle, Bellingham Review, Lake Effect, Poet Lore, Cimarron Review, Natural Bridge, Louisville Review, and Louisiana Literature, as well as featured on the Verse Daily website. His latest book, The Grand Unified Theory (Kansas City: Paladin Contemporaries). He currently teaches online writing and visual rhetoric and poetry workshops at Arizona State University.