Take whatever your mother offers:
piroghies, dented oranges,
rye bread about to sprout
some form of penicillin—once
you get to Penn Station,
you can give them to whomever
looks in need—but draw the line
at pictures, they’ll make a record
you’ll use against yourself.

Take the train, it’s cheaper.
The conductor will say,
They’ve had a fatality
ahead. We’ll be here
until they find all the pieces.
Sit tight. Keep your eyes off
the man on his knees
running the zipper up
the length of the bag. He’s no
cousin of yours and you’re
rolling. There is an elsewhere.
The ticket in your breast
pocket is proof positive.

Back in Boston, call your ex,
tell her about the cats in the over-
grown playground around
your old grammar school.
Say how they arranged
themselves, a sculpture of metal,
rust, and fourteen sets of eyes
filled with a poverty
that has nothing to do
with starvation and is all
about hunger. Give up
light, heat; you need to air
out your life. Go for long runs.
Welcome the arrival of disconnect
notices. Learn the names of birds,
trees, flowers—you’ll get a place
and it’ll need stuff. Nights will
come when the walls shear away
and the roof collapses—
omens of progress.

At parties, when asked about yourself,
begin in northern Maine in February,
how the blue sky at noon takes on clarity,
the elegant economy of a higher math,
with a sightline straight
into Acadia, cliffs above
an empty sea, fields free
of bootprints. Say: In nature
there are only two verticals—
trees and humans.
The day the Mr. Softee truck arrives
order a cone with sprinkles.
The cone is the future—
bite the bottom and suck
on the sugared here and now.

Author’s Bio

James Wyshynski is a former editor of the Black Warrior Review. His poems have appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Terminus, River Styx, Stoneboat, Interim, Nimrod, The Cortland Review, Barrow Street, The Cincinnati Review, and are forthcoming in the Poetry South, and others.