SARAH CARLETON

★ ★ ★ ★

POETRY

Image by Huzeyfe Turan

Woo!

You’re my eyes-wide-open, my popped button,
my tumble-dried hoodie on a chilly day.

You’re the sun’s favorite joke, a punch line I keep forgetting,
a cackle cut loose at a wedding, or maybe

a back wind on a bike ride—you startle
storms of ibises into flight.

Every day you paint clouds saffron
and scatter amazement,

for you who spit shine my insights and water my inklings
are a Slinky boing, a pogo jump,

a parachute leap, a sky full of dandelion fuzz
sprung by wonder.

Grass, Pavilion

“Say something warm. Hello.” – Richard Hugo

You decide. Surprise me. The world
was tender as a new bruise till slate
clouds took over and made the boardwalk
kind to our bare feet and benches
no longer burn our thighs.
Out of the blue, a guy swings by
with buckets of catfish.
Whoever we voted for, we pause here
where the pekoe-steeped river
cups the park, its surface patterned
by the prick and ripple of ibis beaks.
The water blows to grey
and our sweaty foreheads dry as if blessed
by a gust of goodwill, like the day
we saw a firebush alive with bees.
The women we texted are juddering
their bikes over sod and almost here.
You decide. Surprise me.
We’ll watch the broad-wing
birds drift in midair.

Sarah Carleton writes poetry, edits fiction, plays the banjo, and knits obsessively in Tampa, Florida. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Nimrod, Chattahoochee Review, Tar River Poetry, Crab Orchard Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and New Ohio Review. Her first collection, Notes from the Girl Cave, was published in 2020 by Kelsay Books.

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