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POETRY
Unplugged
Anthony Frame

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       “The ocean is the river’s goal”

              - R.E.M. “Find the River"

 

The suburb at midnight filled with silence and cicadas
as Jason snuck us into the private pool where he worked.
Naked and obnoxious, with a stereo on multi-disc shuffle,
we dove so laughter would drop like pollen from our bodies,
Jason – always – leading the way. What did we want other
than this one night, our voices finally bare enough
to harness the moon? Sarah complained when the stereo
shifted to Nirvana's Unplugged so I turned off the ghost
and cannonballed a few feet next to her. The cops never came
and if they had, who – or what – would they have saved?
Not the neighbors pacing their hallways, not Jason's boss
or the morning crew left to clean our mess. Not us, certainly.
We would fail or flail with nothing to hide behind, chlorine
and stars and the soft violins from Automatic for the People
to warm us until morning. For years, I've wanted that skin back,
the three of us and our silent words waiting to drown.
After Jason died, I drove past the pool and listened to
“Pennyroyal Tea," waiting for those first few notes.
Sarah once said the light from right before Kurt Cobain died
was still wandering through space, hoping to find eyes.
Is that what we get in the end? Light years to travel without
the fears of sound? Is that where we get to go? That undertow
between chords, the amp-less strings declining?
the crowd rising? That – I hope – I think I can live with that.


Anthony Frame is an exterminator from Toledo, Ohio, where he lives with his wife. He is the author of A Generation of Insomniacs and of four chapbooks, including Where Wind Meets Wing (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2018) and To Gain the Day (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2015). He is also the editor/publisher of Glass Poetry Press, which publishes the Glass Chapbook Series and Glass: A Journal of Poetry. His work has appeared in Third Coast, Muzzle Magazing, The Shallow Ends, Harpur Palate, and Verse Daily, among others, and in the anthologies Drawn to Marvel: Poems from the Comic Books (Minor Arcana Press, 2014), Come As You Are: An Anthology of 90s Pop Culture (Anomalous Press, 2018), and Not That Bad: Dispatches from the Rape Culture (HarperCollins, 2018). He has twice been awarded Individual Excellence Grants from the Ohio Arts Council.