Three Poems / by Christopher Gaumer

Adolescent Romance

At her white columned high ceilinged white house
we dropped backpacks
sank between couch cushions
raised the arches of our feet. 
Her little brother was       in fact
Her sisters         like lions        without dinner. 

Her mother fished us out. Offered pizza. 
We ate pizza. The dog barking. The birdcage full of shit. 
Mom apologized for the way her hair was. 
Her clothes. The pizza. The bathroom. 
Shut up mom.

She led me with a hand to her bedroom,
the pink carpet of her room. Sat me down. 
Said please tell me why you love me. 
The oak        outside          the window.         Thunder.

I gave her ten reasons: The time you took to tutor that kid the
smile after you burp the cardinal you drew on my hand. I went

on and on until the storm broke. Blue black fields. A Razor Scooter. 
Her brother fleeing down the drive, flocks of geese, 
tearing wind—the sucking sound.

On our knees we prayed for more of everything. 
For the clock on the wall, which seemed to slow,
for our hands, which moved in reverse. We lay back

and let the storm swirl through an open window, blowing
wind like smoke into our mouths. She touched my face.
My back. When we sighed it was the shape of ourselves.





In the Bathroom

I step to the window and stand in steam like a hawk alighting in cirrus and fog—
it’s Tuesday, September 15. It’s going to be a hot one, 
so if possible, I’d like to be water rushing off the side of a cliff. 
I’d like to be a mosquito dancing in the mist.

When I step under the multi-head shower contraption I’m left alone with the body: 
ass, a pimpled cushion. Hair, a poorly worded caveat. I sing a song,
the kind of song that walks into a bar and sits alone for hours. 
There is no living way out. There is nowhere but torso and toes. 

Up, I wave a loosey-goosey question mark into a sea of pleading hands. 
Is there homework? Is there anything we should be doing? 
Excuse me, is there one thing to stop us from finding blanket and beach?
I want to roll on my back and dry out. I want to fall asleep like this.





Remembering a brief friendship
occurring on a beach in Mexico


You sip tequila on ice and say
There is no wrong way to be alive. 

You say Dylan discussed the mother vine
and Duncan too. 

You say the greys do dishes
and speak in reptilian digital. 

We pull chairs
along the wet sand. 

You say you’re leaving. I say no and smile
like a bride with cake. 

Beware the hollow earth, you say.
A sail boat drops anchor. Mazatlán. 

We break for the taco stand.
A Canadian sells us five corn dogs.

I like this.
I like you.

The Canadian offers hot sauce, 
dijon, his podcast about fajita origins.

I watch the wheels tuck
into your belly.

I say the sea is churning quick
let’s take a dip.

It’s a sad moment for you. 
We don’t swim. 

Andy Earl sends a text from
his tiny porch in Fishtown.

He’s on the bong,
says he counts 100 billion visible galaxies;

everything is .8 milliseconds in the past. 
Which is what I’m getting at, you explain.

I don’t know. I repeat a line from earlier
about my car being stolen.

You wonder away while I take myself
to the water where I still have a surfboard. 

I paddle beyond the breakers
and lie on my back.

The water is warm. My body begins
to burn in small expanding circles.






Christopher Gaumer's creative writing has appeared in McSweeney's, The Rumpus, Ruminate Magazine, Belleville Park Pages and more. He earned an MFA from Hamline University. Born in Iowa, he now resides in Virginia where he is faculty at Central Virginia Community College and curator of the non-profit, The Poetry Group.