Poetry

Impenitence

I leave a note,

ballpoint black on unlined blue:

Gone for a drive. May not be back.

I won’t be missed

until evening finds the oven cold

and the meal you assume

refrigerates in disarray.

My cooler bag is packed –

apples, almonds, sandwiches

lined with last night’s roast

and thawed regrets.

All I need to seize the road.

You won’t care:

You, in your self-important suits,

flinging jokes across a wine-chilled glass,

flirting for applause that makes me blush.

You’ll surmise I’ve jaunted off

to cool the day and ignore the won’t

beneath the may until calling out

my name earns no reply.

One last scan before I brush off

the cutting board and grind

the crumbs into the tiled floor:

Gone for a drive. May not be back.

Eight syllables – impenitent, ambiguous—

a novel plotted in one line.

Should I add grocery lists

and handymen? Birthday dates

and credit cards? That violets

detest direct sunlight?

Or should I write I need

to need for myself

and drive away from sadness

heavier than summer heat?

No. I’ll keep the blank

and let you fill it in with

whatever fiction suits.

You’ll craft perfect words

and practice them for public show.

I prop the note

on the granite countertop

proximate to bills unpaid,

against an empty coffee cup

and lock the kitchen door –

unalarmed without excuse,

without a backward glance.

From English teacher to management trainer to retiree, Carolyn Martin has journeyed from New Jersey to Oregon to discover Douglas firs, months of rain, and perfect summers. Her poems and book reviews have appeared in publications throughout North America and the UK including “Stirring,” “CALYX,” “Persimmon Tree,” “How Higher Education Feels,” and “Antiphon.” Her third collection, Thin Places, is slated for release by Kelsay Books in Fall 2017. Since the only poem she wrote in high school was red-penciled “extremely maudlin,” Carolyn is amazed she has continued to write.

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