Joshua Robert Long: 4 Poems

Occasional Self Portrait, Pt IV

Green and gray turn into
poorly painted mural
The Simpsons staring at
Brewery Ken Kesey
and all his family’s yogurt money
cannot pull my fists back through the windshield

I’m walking in the almost-post-dawn
a parking lot patch of grass
beside the hotel car wash
and my dog shits and barks
at another dog
while a young white kid in slippers
does the storyline of a cigarette

Brushing in a bus stop across
the street
next to a Mexican restaurant
that never seems to open

Each time my eyes going
left-to-right
I hear another property management company
voicemail
telling me how we have no credit
or we have too many pets
or the threat of the dog is real

Back in front of the hotel room
the neighbor leaves half a pizza
and the rental car gets returned
while my wife learns to ride the bus

Outside at night I remember
what it’s like to be somewhere
around people
and the sorts of things they’ll offer
to you on their own roads
to finding peace

I start wondering how long we’ve been here
and we’re already starting to forget

Karen

You in a hospital gown
holding a pillow up in your fist
like a shield
as four grown men all stand around you
in fear

You’re screaming and you’re crying
and nobody can tell if it’s the good or bad kind

One eventually gets by you with a shot
sinking slowly down to your knees

My knight in shimmering armor
shackled to the bed
somewhere in Beavercreek
where a couple of geese used to fly

I Want a World

That looks like a world
like an imaginary field of sound
projected back and attached
to a conversation with a stranger
smiling

I want to feel
the kindness of an electricity bill
in a world that’s in my own name

The type of handshake
you get from a security deposit
rolling down sideways
down a hill

Riding

Struggling to hear through heat
the dry air walking down opposite sidewalk
and me
in the very back seat of the bus
but on the opposite side and out of the sun

I think about how many times I’ve seen you
and how there is an extra different kind of feel to this
with the heat of the engine going on behind me
as the fan blows out a sound that soothes in the same sense
as white noise

I hold my breath and smell
the stale sweat made of steeped cigarettes
as we stop and we stop and we stop
and I simply cannot


Joshua Robert Long is a writer, poet, journalist from Dayton, Ohio currently living in Eugene, Oregon. He has a wife and a cattlemutt and a tabby cat and a Siamese cat. He also has an MFA from The University of Texas at El Paso in Creative Writing.

Alexander Romanovich: 3 Poems