Heat/Stroke

Crawled. I
                crawled. Knees and palms.
                                                                Concrete scratching
my fingertips.
                                My heart’s heat a rotten star
                                                                                in my chest, ratcheting
with each breath,
                                blood-flush
                                                through my right temple
so loud
               I was sure the deer off the trail
                                                                               could hear it.
June day as still
                               as my cotton tongue.
                                                                A running man burns
five hundred calories
                                               an hour,
                                                                and I wanted that hour.
Wasn’t there. I
                               wasn’t there.
                                                I was in my head, my room,
the framed picture
                               of my body five years before,
                                                                                             thin and slender,
knee-deep in the lake’s
                                               burnished silver surface.
                                                                                            Trees surrendered their needles
and pitch onto my shoulders,
                                               a sharp perfume
                                                                               like loss, both sweet
and sting.
               And, face warm against concrete,
                                                                               I wanted to lose.
Lose those years
                               and be buried in that glass frame,
                                                                                             in that photo’s thin body.
I was there,
                               inside that perfect,
                                                                               that everything I wanted.

 

Revival, Epworth Bible Camp, Summer 2007

I’m the strut of starlight
in the open tabernacle—
I’m the songs of leopard frogs
in the dew-spackled grass.
all backbone and fire-wrack.
I’m the warp and the wrest.
I’m the rasped ash
of a wasp rising, rising,
I’m ridden. I’ve rode.
I’ve rid. I’ve lost
my tongue, my tonsils.
My throat’s an owl falling,
thorn-nicked.
I’m burr-licked.
Gnat–kicked,
I’m clown and cloud
I’m the end.
And the end.

 
 
Photo by Tom Hilton

Kirk Schlueter

KIRK SCHLUETER received his MFA in poetry at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. His work has been a finalist for the Indiana Review Poetry Prize and the Yemassee contest, and has appeared or is forthcoming in Ninth Letter, Gulf Stream, and the minnesota review among others. He has been awarded a full scholarship to the NYS Summer Writers Institute, and been a part of the Hungry Young Poets Reading Series in St. Louis, where he lives and works as a copywriter.

Latest posts by Kirk Schlueter (see all)