Elementaries by Jim Gustafson

Elementaries

Held at the proper angle, a lens will rip the sun’s flames from the sky.
Cast them down upon sidewalks, cremate full colonies of ants,
turn brown leaves to smoke and ash, and send mothers screaming
in shame for giving birth to a pyromaniac.

A Queen of Diamonds pulled from a fresh deck when clipped to a Schwinn
with a wooden clothespin will run its fingers the bike’s spokes
like a Hells Angel with a harp and roar like a Harley.

Casseroles are leftovers mixed in the same bowl
with Campbell’s Mushroom Soup to drown the truth.
Corn kernels covered with mashed potatoes disappear.
Peas go orbital upon a plate’s brown-gravy sky.

Mud slow dances with little boys’ soles, holds and hugs tight
the way thirteen-year-olds cuddle to the final tune at the first school dance.
The dirt has a mind of its own, prefers to disembark to the carpet, spread itself around.

Snow is hard water, pasted to hills. Cardboard boxes are the sleds of the poor.
Oak trees at the bottom of hills are acorns come of age, ready to do battle,
stand at attention, singing “We Shall Not Be Moved.”

The child who snuggles without prayers feels guilty,
climbs from bed to kneel, and places hands together, reciting
“Now I lay me….” then, absolved of omission, returns to sleep.
The day will come; he will fail to kneel.
The world will be much the same. No one cares; no one knows.

by Jim Gustafson

Editor’s Note: The imagery in this poem is slightly slant from reality, careening the reader into epiphanies that feel slightly guilty-pleasure-ish, but as the last line assures us, no one will care.