“Finality” by Rob Talbert

Rob Talbert


I drop a quarter in a gumball machine
and a gumball rolls out.
End of story.
I press a button on a jukebox
and the first measures cannot be unplayed.
Even when my wife does show up
you are still staring across the table,
still reaching underneath it.
Navigating blind but never making
a mistake, never grabbing the wrong body.
I order a beer and a glass fills
with what will never be given back,
only changed and made useless.
I need to live twice
so I can love twice.
I need the salmon in my veins
to fight against a current
other than you’re running
out of time.
All of the shadows
down the dark street
from the bar to the burger joint
smile upon our stumblings.
They watch the gestures we begin
but don’t finish: the retreating mouth,
the distancing of wrists aching to be pinned
against the bricks.

Their darkness
is so available,
so perfect for crime
it’s as if they saw us and whispered,
Oh yes,
I know very well
how your song ends.

from Rattle #48, Summer 2015


Rob Talbert: “I’m a restless guy, especially at night. I can’t sit still in my apartment while the city is fired up and tumbling. I need to go out, go to nightclubs, see a friend, hear a band. If I do this enough I’ll eventually wind up in one of those moments that shimmers, what Colin Wilson called ‘the mystical,’ when suddenly through some trick of consciousness the world is understandable. I guess I’m just constantly looking to feel stirred, so, ya know, poems.”

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