Three Poems by Sean Walsh

Chalkboard Boyfriend Studies Greek Sculpture

It is difficult to love something that you can
control. The man’s face, the caged bird, the beating
heart. Even when I am powerful I want to feel

like I am without power. My fingerprints corrupt
his cheekbones because I am reminded of the man
he was before I touched him. Seeing him

is reading from an old journal, his cautious brow
is burdened with ideals I gather like kindling from the wooded
place outside town. The naked body had meaning

before science. The men we can truly love are in loose packs
around a fire waiting for the stray ember. The men we can love
suffer horrible burns and we worship their unattended blisters,

their damaged skin, the meandering speeches that hang
from their crooked lips—
           stopping then starting again, like the arrhythmic pant of a wild dog.



The Chalkboard Is A Town We All Abandoned

The origin of an epidemic. The speck of discolored
skin he shows to a doctor. The song your mother
hummed from a distant corner of the bed when you
were young and sick. The empty spaces that belong
to the words. The baby incisor that was swallowed
in sleep. For months after the incident you imagined
the inside of your body to be sharp and chewing,
filled with many teeth. How we, joking but serious,
said that you had a teething soul. And migration. 
Parents strapping children to arms as wings.
We left impressions in grass and pressed our fingers
against cereal boxes in the grocery store. We are a group
running from noise in our childhood dreams and
the distance is unsatisfying because sounds echo
in the back of our skulls. We rehear phrases like picking
at scars. Even molting won’t protect us now, when
men pry wood from the boarded store and uncover our
thumbprints. There will be no denying it. We have
always been the guilty ones. And the men will see the field
where we crushed grass with small feet, knowing that we lived. 



Chalkboard Boyfriend Gets Wasted And Is Escorted From A Party

The hanging switch
was bumped by his hand
and swung through the dark
until he caught it and
pulled it. And even then,
when the small room
was lit and the man was
still, it swung about in
orbit around the bulb. It
was a fly. It buzzed
with electricity leaking
from the old socket.

And isn’t this like self-awareness?

To be dull and deadly at the fancy shindig;
an honest man is bad company and when
he talks it is ugly. The man is given drinks
to become tolerable, to wash the stench
of self from his tongue. But his angular
face won’t mount the masks they all wear
so he is asked to leave.

Individuality only benefits a solitary man.

Individuality is the blinking motel sign:




Author's Note: These poems are selections from an upcoming collection called The Chalkboard Series.

Sean Walsh is a freelance copywriter and amateur bloodhound trainer.