page contents

POETRY / It's Relapse Thursday / Rex Wilder


The sun waits in the hall while I eat trail mix
From the center’s kitchen, avoiding the walnuts
While one or other of us fidgets with a crucifix
On a necklace, cries, shakes, or spills our guts

About a rape, ripe or rotten, or a vintage beating.
Today I’m feeling vaguely superior, like a sheep
That doesn’t have to be herded for once, bleating
And preening by the fence as the sweep

Descends. In recovery there are always gaps.
I knew I’d be lucky to tightrope my good humor
All group long but a relapse is not a lapse
(Our mantra) — not like the discovery of a tumor

Or a wolf pouncing on the complacent sheep.
In June, it’d be an emergency. Now, it’s a nuisance,
One that merely fogs my windshield of hope.
So when I feel the nausea come on and a soupçon

Of suicidal ideation, the regular witch’s brew,
I take the reversals in stride that dogged
Me all summer by domesticating them, too.
Banal, fearless, like “Why is the toilet clogged?”

Rex Wilder lives, breathes, and rhymes in Venice, California. He has three books out, with one (Summer of Love) in the oven. He suffers from peripoetic, which means his work is all over the place: Poetry, The New Republic, Poetry Ireland, The Nation, TLS London’s Times Literary Supplement, Yale Review, Harvard Review, Ploughshares, Antioch Review, The National Review, Georgia Review, Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond, and others.