it ain’t pretty

I’ve been hanging out with poetry
fresh, rosy-cheeked images
trim, lilting phrases
high-stepping across the page
fuck the pretty words
I want a poet with the guts
to visit the industrial part of town
late winter views that will
make no tourist brochure
grimy snow banks
rotting, leaking thin mud
chip bags snagged against chain link
leaden skies, pothole roads
a poet pulling to the page
the common ugliness
we pretend not to notice
a partner out the door
years of wary circling
ended in vicious in-fighting
sharp words, bared teeth
ripping chunks from each other
wolves of raw emotion dripping blood
on the kitchen floor
or cancer, someone’s personal 9-11
terror shattering all that’s normal
life collapsing to rubble
long days later
looking for the enemy
bunkered cell-deep
bombing the bastards
until the land lies ruined
the stench of puke
after fifty ounces of Seagram’s finest
the toughness to draw a line
against one’s own child
‘you can’t live here anymore’
bleak midlife mornings
endless horizon of tedious work
then home to a family
you’re don’t really know
and a life empty
as last night’s pizza carton
the piss-y truth of aging
gnarled hands spilling soup
mind tangled in neural deadfall
impatient & unfamiliar hands
wiping your butt
just another old heap dumped
in a geriatric wrecking yard
spirit racked
all of us on the wheel of time
each turn ratcheting up
the pain each turn
straining cartilage
to the breaking point
each turn tearing flesh
from flesh
often as not
daily life
ain’t even close to pretty
still we keep dancing
bones shining
in moon-bright dark

~ Cheryl King

As a busy consultant & educator, Cheryl King works too much, reads endlessly, wishes for more time to play with paper & paint, and is occasionally blessed by having a poem arrive in her head. She has lived in Grande Prairie, Alberta, for the past 16 years. Her work is included in Writing the Land: Alberta through its Poets.

One Response to “it ain’t pretty”

  1. Powerful stuff, Cheryl. Loved the lines “life empty as last night’s pizza carton” and “mind tangled in neural deadfall”.

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