Fiction   Essays   Poetry  The Ten On Baseball Chapbooks In Memory

Jeff Dutko

(and without a word)

Only now, lying
next to you
before we sleep
can my hands and fingers
cease to be
the imposters of
tone and timbre
the trickeries
of my thoughts

At night
my speech is woven
through the spaces
unoccupied by fingers
and I am now
the silence
of the circle
I have swept
on your breast

which, at once
opens one eye
and stands straight
the tiny hairs
on your back
every one
a gift
I could not hear
in the light

All those tiny hairs
the only words
my ears
have ever needed
to hear

Slow Burn

I watch, voyeuristically, the devilish way you probe the avocados
fingers secretly desiring to penetrate the delicate vellum of rind.
Unblemished, however, you stash it back into the green ziggurat of produce.
Your rough and tumble affair undetected, your indifference nobody’s business.
When I watch you sniff at the sprigs of showered, fresh parsley
I think that our bodies are slowly cooking themselves
at an almost uncanningly steady temperature of 98.6 degrees.

Your difficulties with the wilted skins, falling like loose notebook pages
from a flaking pile of Spanish onions, makes me think
that somewhere there’s a cookbook with a recipe for rare roasted humans.
It states that at the aforementioned low heat, 75.1 years is perfect
   for the American male,
while just a hair under 81 years is sufficient for the female of the same region.

I scare myself by contemplating the size of the individuals reading these manuals
and then marvel at their patience. Couldn’t they just use a microwave?
Which produces images of A-tests and I wonder if we could ever really be
   that succulent?
If we’re even worthy of sitting upon the plates of those lingering above us?
In my head, I name all the condiments that must be used to make man more palatable.
I think back to the importance of slow roasting, seasoning.

The words “free range” become important to me in a whole new way.
Human chickens on a farm with extended borders, but penned in nonetheless
until a hand other than our own determines our fate.
I imagine the joy and anticipation in those presumptively gargantuan souls
peeking over the oven of the Earth, unable to resist the aromatic, but long wait.

When the kitchen master finally pronounces each individual “done,”
their satisfaction builds as they watch their earthly sous chefs
place the carcasses, all dressed, in preservative boxes
and then lower them gingerly underground to cool before the feast.

I want it to be said that I tasted equally as palatable as Napoleon
and slightly more tender than that woman with green frosting
of over-ripe avocados under her perfectly manicured nails.

©2009 by Jeff Dutko

Jeff Dutko lives in Farmington, Connecticut with his wife and son and crazy dog. He often tries to give voice to the special needs children he teaches through his writing, but has also produced poetry for twenty-five years on a variety of themes and social issues. Some of his most recent work has been published in Right Hand Pointing, Rattlesnake Review, Slow Trains, Haggard and Halloo, and Miller’s Pond.

  Home Contributors Past Issues Search   Links  Guidelines About Us

Subscribe to the Slow Trains newsletter