Nick Lantz reads his poem “Fork with Two Tines Pushed Together” from his collection “How to Dance as the Roof Caves In.”
Fork with Two Tines Pushed Together
It’s fast and cool as running water, the way we forget
the names of friends with whom we talked and talked
the long drives up and down the coast.
I say I love and I love and I love. However, the window
will not close. However, the hawk searches
for its nest after a storm. However, the discarded
nail longs to hide its nakedness inside the tire.
Somewhere in Cleveland or Tempe, a pillow
still smells like M_____’s hair.
In a bus station, a child is staring
at L____’s rabbit tattoo. I’ve bartered everything
to keep from doing my soul’s paperwork.
Here’s a partial list of artifacts:
mirror, belt, half-finished 1040 form (married, filing jointly), mateless walkie-talkie, two blond eyelashes, set of acrylic paints with all the red and yellow used up, buck knife, dog collar, camping tent (sleeps two), slivers of cut-up credit cards, ashtray in the shape of a naked woman, pen with teeth marks, bottom half of two-piece bathing suit, pill bottles containing unfinished courses of antibiotics, bank statments with the account number blacked out, maps of London, maps of Dubuque, sweatshirts with the mas-cots of colleges I didn’t attend, flash cards for Spanish verbs (querer, perder, olvidar), Canadian pocket change, fork with two tines pushed together.
One night, riding the train home from the city,
will I see a familiar face across from me? How many times
will I ask IS it you? before I realize
it’s my own reflection in the window?
Forgetfulness means to be full
of forgetting, a glass
overflowing with cool water, though I’d always
thought of it as the empty pocked
where the hand finds
nothing: no keys, no ticket, no change.
Nick Lantz has written three books of poetry. He won the Bread Loaf Writers Conferences Bakeless Prize for his first collection, “We Don’t Know We Don’t Know,” and the Felix Pollack Prize in Poetry for his second collection, “The Lightning That Strikes the Neighbors’ House.” His third book, “How to Dance as the Roof Caves In,” was published in March. Lantz received an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2005. He was the 2007-2008 Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing and the 2010-2011 Emerging Writer lecturer at Gettysburg College.
You can find out more about Nick Lantz’s inspiration for “How to Dance as the Roof Caves in” and hear him read “Help” from the same collection.
Nick Lantz. “Fork with Two Tines Pushed Together,” from “How to Dance as the Roof Caves In.” Copyright © 2014 by Nick Lantz. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, www.graywolfpress.org.