I need what I earn and could use a little more.
But the little man in me needs none of it.
He squats like an undiscovered arthropod
and bottom-feeds on my mutterings.
He sits in the position known as Lotus
with his knees at forty-five degrees.
The supposed virtues are his zodiac
and if he’s naked you try not to notice.
Please believe in me and do not doubt
what I say. This foaming mouth is Aphrodite
but the hands are Hephaestus clawing the air
as he falls through the heavens in dismay.
You break my heart but I take the pieces
and make from each a thousand more.
Gravel was on the menu.
It was the thing you weren’t supposed to eat.
It was there to make everything else look good.
It was there to make sure you ordered dessert,
something soft, creamy, and sweet.
Our doorbell doesn’t work. People knock
but if we’re out back, we don’t hear.
A friend sometimes stops by without calling.
He accepts our offer of tea and tells news
of his ex, who visits him without calling,
often when he’s about to go out,
having thought of some kitchen device
or book she’d like. He thinks she wants
him back. He sighs, drinks his tea,
then sleeps on our couch. When we check,
he’s already left. When I was a kid,
the chime would sound and I’d rush
to the door: delivery men with parcels
to sign for, that neighbor child
who liked me though I was timid
and stammered, and always Jehovah’s
Witnesses. One night I opened the door
to spears of rain. I stared so hard
at who wasn’t there, they almost were.
The Wild Things
The wild things invade the living room
where I’ve been building a fire
without a hearth. The living room is deadly
and I don’t mean the tiger traps beneath the rug.
I mean you, Responsibility –
the only program on a thousand channels.
Waiting’s a thing at first smaller than I am,
then getting larger the longer I wait.
Maybe I make it larger, maybe it grows
from my growing anger, or I grow smaller
from losing control of time I’d thought my own.
The space of my waiting becomes a vastness.
For all I know I’m traveling backwards
through my waiting, my destination’s not-waiting,
which lies behind as much as before me.
In waiting rooms, magazines are the windows
of waiting, mainly flipping from back to front
without much reading. Other people are waiting,
some from before me for who knows how long.
Some wait with children, who are demons
of waiting, though in my more generous mind
they are bedeviled themselves by waiting
on waiting adults who know one thing:
that some people enter through different doors
and know nothing of waiting. So we keep on
waiting, as if waiting were all we can do.
Robert Lunday is the author of Mad Flights (Ashland Poetry Press, 2002) and Gnome (Black Sun Lit, 2017). His hybrid memoir, Fayettenam: Meditations on Missingness, winner of the 2022 River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Award, will be published by the University of New Mexico Press in 2023. He lives in Houston, Texas.