I Keep Trying to Tell You




Wary of the thunder passing 

into me, scrambling past the fissures. 

Home savannas shouldn’t roil

at the dawn of man. Please, 


listen! We don’t joke that the volume 

goes to eleven, the bass to eight, the treble 

to twelve. How many fingernails can scrabble 

for purchase on the scalp before I fall 


off my head, before you push me 

onto my feet? These storms, they were 

your grandfather’s. He kept them locked 

in bottles. It’s your fault 


I prefer to call them intangible. The usual gales 

whip even clean laundry across our faces. 

Yet no one can scrub a day’s labor of greasy grit 

from our pores. I’ve been digging for oil 


with a shovel better suited 

for clouting, which I do, 

and apologize, almost. I spasm

in fear of the crack of doom. 


Come to the yawing table, lash 

ourselves to the common bench, send up 

a flare to the other side of the ship. 

These flames spell primogeniture.  


I only ever wanted to become 

the most adored stowaway. I hid 

in a barrel of pitch and rum, not 

the right answer, a rolling and spattered,

a cacophony by the time I was done. 


John F. Buckley once again lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with his wife after twenty years in and around California. His publications include various poems, two chapbooks, the collection Sky Sandwiches (Anaphora Literary Press, 2012). He and Martin Ott collaborated to create Poets’ Guide to America (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2012) and Yankee Broadcast Network (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2014). His website is http://johnfbuckley.net.