Dereck Clemons

In a clearing of woods, he leaned against the car he'd packed. His wife, her mama inside the squat brick house behind him slept. He stood.

He'd come out to breathe. He'd just been about to. He burned
down his cigarette. Mashed it into the dirt.
He was exhaling and going
to look at the stars
when a bat
dropped at his feet. His flying parts then, the bat in him
flew into the hills. It wandered years,
careening through the air. Left there.

He steps out the garage. He stares at the house, this one tall, wooden. The bat of him left him comes back and sees.

He still a staring creature. Stares at stars, the few there are,
asphalt at his feet.
Comes back and says you still small, sick, fooling
nobody. Your head parts
fall off. Fly. You leave them behind too?
He was just about to. It comes down from he
don't know where. He finishes his cigarette, goes inside,
sits. Ignores the him back and talking. Say.
Gone all this time and thinks
it can swoop in
and get him thinking like he don't.
He pushes it away.

His wife on the couch sleeps. Her nerves stressed to him it seems. The leg ones burst. Her feet kick out the covers, kick back in. They do this for hours.

She sits up and looks afraid at him. Her pupils
black, big. Asleep, he thinks.
That look of waking mid-dream out of it trying
to take in like he's come out of nowhere.
That look keeps on like he's some kind of
he don't know what. He don't
know what.



Moving around the country gives you a lot of chances to look at yourself from different angles. "Him Looking Still" for me describes one of these moments. It was a clear night, and I found myself in a very familiar space (outside garage, just staring at the house, thinking), this time halfway across the country (yet again). Regarding style: well it certainly looks like I was rereading Berryman when I wrote this poem.