Is it worth dragging around this bag of sunsets, dewed ferns, and first kisses;
of my dad’s Thurman Munson bat broken in two and buried to hide next
to a fig tree in St. Maria Goretti’s churchyard; of all the noses I’ve broken
kickboxing, including my own, which slipped a jab right into a hard-swung
shin bone; of those iron tracks in Riverside, I used to walk on nights I was high,
and that one freight train’s headlight, like god’s howling eye, that I dove away
from just before its momentum sucked me under; of the stiff faces of every wake
I’ve known; all bottlenecking this bag’s canvas mouth, with my hands trading
off as they exhaust. The crowded end, like a fat tulip bulb, trails yards behind,
avoiding the gutted drops of city potholes—lest their troubled bounce forever
jumble parted lips soothed in globs of flavorless chapstick with a streaked
horizon’s parade of rubedo and gold across a Brooklyn rooftop’s spread gravel.
Avoiding too, the gnarled snags of broken men and glass, because a seam split
over either pointed Bordeaux-carrier could mean the spill of all I’ve hoarded.
I’m never sure how many others there are with bags wrenching skeletal columns
into the shape of hunched question marks. The sky’s vistas from Oklahoma to Osaka,
are light to lug, like silk dress shirts folded small enough to be worn by two eyes,
but both lip caresses and loved one’s faces carry nerves anvil-heavy and lively
stripped like frayed wire—nerves that may smother or electrocute the poor ferns
or that old fig tree, if I so much as stagger. I wonder why I keep this burden,
on days when tracts of wandering cumulus clouds soak up the dew speckling
leafed veins, the spilt plasma of busted noses, and all the sloppy first saliva,
slicking eager backseats and pooled below the awnings of apartment buildings;
days when condensation turns to rain, which rusts the rail tracks and makes
the bulb too heavy to drag. I pause, and consider release.
But don’t, having collected it all so carefully.
Michael Ventura-Rogers runs an indoor softball and baseball training facility in Long Beach, CA. Mental and physical programs that he has created and implemented have led to over 150 college softball scholarships to top D1, D2, and D3 schools across the country (the majority of these female athletes were the first in their families to attend universities). He received his MFA in poetry from California State University, Long Beach and is the former art editor of its RipRap Literary Magazine. His poetry has been featured in Serving House Journal.