Heather June Gibbons was born in Utah and grew up on an island in Washington State. She has been the recipient of a 2012 Fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center, a Pavel Strut Poetry Fellowship from the Prague Summer Program, a Agha Shahid Ali Scholarship from the Fine Arts Work Center, and a university prize from the Academy of American Poets. Her chapbook, Flyover, was published by Q Ave Press in 2012. Her poems have appeared widely in journals such as Gulf Coast, The Southeast Review, The Cincinnati Review, Indiana Review, Blackbird, New Ohio Review, and Drunken Boat. She was residing in Indiana and teaching creative writing and literature at Purdue University, but recently relocated to California where she will be teaching at San Francisco State University.
Since they detangled the wires under my hair
and took out the bad parts, not even the bending
of light saddens me. I see a family glisten on the bay
in a white sailboat and perch awhile, invisible,
eavesdropping on their inner-peace. A bluefin tuna
blurs by, an immense iridescence with an under-bite.
My mouth is wired to a trigger point on the sole
of my right foot. Press it and I say the funniest things.
Hiss-hiss go the dog-faced snakes in the vault, here kitty-kitty
goes the little engine that could. When I say she snapped,
I mean she danced like a suspension bridge
in an earthquake, fell into the strait, felt her neck give,
and a stain. What does it mean when a chain store flies
its logoed flag at half-mast? He shook his fist
and laughed at me. I regained consciousness.
Even air has its blackouts. Think of the hundred-year
infestation, the sky a densely pixilated net of buzz.
Spores travel faster than I can sing. The scanner mistakes
a throat singer for a bomb. The singer stabs
himself in the heart. The scanner jumps off a bridge.
Toot-toot goes the little kid with his arm, hoping
the long-haul trucker will oblige. On the stereo,
a Bulgarian folk song about two shepherds
buried alive inside a mountain plays on.
WE STOOD ON THE SHOULDERS OF GNATS
We have become what willfulness
is to wit. Lasers turn the sap
under our fingernails to amber
in the inevitable warmth
of the everyday, buttery
and cloying as a California
chardonnay. If the formula
racecar driver can admit
he suffers from chronic
motion sickness, why can't we
remove our hoods and look
forward to the days ahead?
How can it be absurd
to state the obvious when
the obvious is so absurd?
My fellow wizards, go sit
on your house of cards
and wait for my signal.
We doubted the Word
was law, yet knew all
the words to the song.
When soothsayers bowed
their heads, we peeked
threw a tantrum, nobody came
walked into a bar
they wouldn't serve us
we were too old
we had become a baggie
with a couple of aspirin
and some thumbtacks in it
we were living on licked
wrappers and greasy snow.
In a word, personally.
In a word, perfidy.
Because we stood for no one
no one stood for us.
EVERY TOWN HAS A DIVISION STREET
Turns out No Man's Land is an island
in a tiny Midwestern lake. As I thumb
through the brochure, I wonder
what astronauts wear under their suits.
The dawning is gradual, the way we are
still driving around the circle interchange,
still moshing and cracking our heads
while our torsos recline on a desert island
ripping the captions off photographs,
forced into being examples of themselves.
We're askance and hoarse from yelling fire,
just a steaming heap on the piano bench,
blood in the goulash, a click on the horizon
and Pontius Pilate in the hot seat
with a bottle cap stuck to his forehead
doing long division on his thumbs. Beautiful
astronaut, why must you gradually recede?
Come back to Badwater Basin,
give us the thrashing we deserve.